Airplanes and Germs – Healthy Flying
Airplanes and Germs – Healthy Flying
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Airplanes and Germs Worry #1 – The Air
Is an airplane airtight? When you close the door at the gate, is that the same air you live with all the way to your destination?
NO! About half the air from the inside gets mixed with fresh air from outside. After the mixing, the air gets heated (Because baby, it’s cold out there!) Last, the warmed air mixture gets passed through a HEPA air filter BEFORE it is released back into the cabin.
What is a HEPA air filter? Fancy schmany science filter – cleans out pollens, dust, germs, and cooties from your fellow passengers. HEPA airfilters removed 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses. So, you are NOT sharing germs with the sneezy guy from row 37. BUT, you are still sharing the air with the sneezy guy right next to you.
How close do you have to be to worry about sneezy germs? Within about 7 rows. There is a complicated explaination here...but basically, air is recirculated within segments of the airplane and each segment is about 7 rows.
The air is cleaner in an airplane than other places you frequent without a second thought. Dr. Mark Gendreau, an emergency and aviation medicine expert at the Lahey Clinic in MA has this to say:
“There is a heightened risk of infection when you enter a confined space such as an aircraft or subway, but a plane is a much safer place because of the ventilation system.”
Don’t be the germy passenger! If you are sneezy remember to make like Dracula and cough into your sleeve!
Airplanes and Germs Worry #2 – Seat germs
How often is an airplane cleaned? That depends on your definition of clean. A crew sweeps through (and that word is figurative – no one is actually sweeping the plane!) between each flight, but they aren’t really cleaning…they are more like tidying. They get rid of wrappers and leftover soda cans and that ‘frat club party’ look.
Can you blame them? Think about how long it would take to actually clean an airplane – an hour? More? Those planes turn around and head off into the wild blue yonder again in minutes – not hours. And…when was the last time you entered a plane and it smelled like Mr. Clean just left? Never? Yeah me, neither.
The germiest part of the seat area? The pocket in front of you. Not only is it never wiped down, but it probably has crumbs in the bottom of it from 1999. The arm rest isn’t as germy…I guess arms and shirt sleeves aren’t that germy.
The tray table is a germ party zone – every single person touches it, eats on it…never, ever, ever gets cleaned. How germy? Well, EColi can live for 2-4 DAYS on a non-porous spot like the tray table and MRSA can live for 4 – 7 DAYS!! Ew…just ew.
If you can not imagine the grossness that people can produce on a plane, you must visit the website dedicated to grossing out airplane passengers – Passenger Shaming.
Airplanes and Germs Worry #3: Stop worrying and take control!
Bring the Clorox wipes!
Be that passenger who wipes off everything…tray table, arm rests, pocket, light buttons above you, and the window shade. Who cares what ‘they’ think!! You will never see these people again and maybe they’ll even learn something from you. Let them get the sniffles or stomach bug because they are too worried to look ‘weird’ while they wipe down the seat. You plan to enjoy a healthy vacation!!
Bring your own pillow/blanket/woogie.
Don’t be fooled by the blanket in a plastic bag. Unless they are completely sealed…then they have been used before. Germs can not live as long on fabric as they can on hard surfaces, but…depending upon the germ they can still last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours – on fabric. Ew! Want the gory details? Read here at the National Health Service website.
Bring your own!!
I like the 3 in 1 travel blanket by Comfortplus because it has a cool little strap which makes it easy to latch on to your purse or your carryon. Use it as a blanket or a pillow. Soft but not too fluffy so it doesn’t take up much room. It does come in black but I put the pretty blue photo below because I’m trying to get away from buying everything the same color! We should live a little, right! Add some color!
Airplanes and Germs Worry #4: The Airplane Bathroom
Considering how many people visit the bathroom on a long flight….really, even if it were actually cleaned in between flights it would be a filthy orgy for germs about 1/2 way through your overseas flight anyway.
What to do? Wash your hands!!! Use a paper towel to touch the flush button and then door handle and use hand sanitizer when you leave. (You can take it past security if you get the tiny bottles and put it in the mandatory zip-loc bag.)
Hand sanitizers come in all sorts of wonderful colors and scents! Buy something fun for your journey instead of the plain old ordinary stuff!!
Airplanes and Germs Worry #5: Best stay well advice?
1) Start healthy and well rested!
Eat well, exercise, don’t go outside with a wet head, and all those other things your mom told you. Mom is always right! Well, except for the going outside with a wet head thing – you won’t really catch your death of cold from doing that, but don’t tell her I said so. 😉
Do not leave vacation preparations to the last minute! You’ll be stressed and worn down and more susceptible to germs you run into.
2) Wash your hands!
Washing your hands will help you keep those germs away rather you encounter them right before the trip in your everyday life or on the airplane/taxi/bus/train.
These cool body wash wipes require no rinsing AND can be used to freshen up after a long flight! Get rid of germs and feel refreshed.
Why does it seem that people ‘always’ get sick on an airplane? Well, low humidity is suggested. Your membranes get dry and you get dehydrated and this makes it easier to catch the germ from the guy next to you.
So? DRINK to your health! Remember to buy it after you get through security. Or use a cool container and fill it up FREE at a water fountain! I love these lightweight foldable water containers!!
You can buy the usuals like lemonade but think outside the box!!
How about root beer singles?
Nasal moisturizing spray for grown ups!
The Educational Tourist can help you plan the trip of your dreams!
Happy and Healthy Travels,
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
That would be great. Thanks for stopping by!