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    Staying Safe and Healthy During Holiday Travel

    By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather Staff Writer
    December 5, 2012; 5:30 AM ET
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    Millions of people will travel more than 50 miles to reach their holiday destinations this year.

    Some will drive, others will take a plane, a train or a bus. There are several precautions that can be taken to stay safe and healthy.

    Plane Travel

    Getting sick from germs that circulate through the air on a plane is a big concern for many passengers. The odds of catching and airborne illness from another plane passenger is about 1 in 1,000 according to medicinenet.com.

    The risk of getting an infection (such as a sinus infection), however, increases. Pressurized cabin air is created by heating, then cooling the air. During this process, the moisture content decreases. As you breathe the drier air, your sinus passages become drier. This makes them more susceptible to infection. You can keep them moist by ordering a hot beverage and inhaling the steam, or using a saline spray or gel.

    Although highly unlikely, if you are taking a plane to your holiday destination, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of a crash.

    Most accidents take place during a plane's take-off or landing. By taking a direct flight, you can minimize the amount of take-offs and landings you will experience. The time of day of the flight does not make a difference.

    Another common cause of crashes is the weather. Try to fly during good weather. Ice becomes a factor during the winter months and often planes will not fly or will be delayed in snowy or icy weather.

    Train Travel
    Getting sick from the germs of a nearby passenger have about the same odds as on a plane. The best way to avoid becoming sick is to frequently wash your hands and try to avoid passengers who are coughing or sneezing.

    If you have to cough or sneeze, don't sneeze into your hands. Try to use a tissue, handkerchief or sneeze into the elbow joint of your arm if you have sleeves.

    Bus Travel

    A study released by United Kingdom scientists in 2011 suggests that you are six times more likely to catch a cold if you take public transportation, like a bus or subway. The passengers on buses and subway cars tend to be closer together than those on a train. These close quarters make it more likely that you will breathe in the germs of a sick person.

    You can reduce the risk of illness by irrigating your sinuses after riding public transportation. This will help eliminate some of the germs you have inhaled.

    Being well rested and fed before your trip can also help reduce your risk of illness.

    Family holiday car trip photograph is courtesy of Photos.com

    Car Travel
    The risk of catching a cold or flu from strangers is eliminated if you decide to make the trip in your own car. However, new risks like accidents or disabled vehicles need to be prepared for. Winter driving conditions also increase during the holiday season.

    A winter driving kit is essential if you plan on taking a long trip. In the event that your vehicle leaves the road in icy conditions, you should have enough supplies for a day or two, just in case.

    Your kit should include: gloves, hat, boots, waterproof poncho, water, food (nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, nourishment drinks), solar blanket, flashlight, cell phone and charger, first-aid kit, waterproof matches, collapsible shovel, chains or traction devices, tow rope, jumper cables, tool kit, flares and a cutting device.

    Make sure all of your vehicle lights are in working order and your brakes, lights and tires are all in good condition. Consider having your car looked at by a mechanic before your trip.

    Of course, using safe driving practices will reduce the chance of a vehicle mishap. If it is snowy or icy during your drive, reduce your speed, tap the brakes lightly, allow extra space between your car and those of others and try to avoid swerving or stopping suddenly.

    Preparing for your trip before you go will help ensure a pleasant and illness-free holiday visit with your family.


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