The holidays are quickly approaching which is leaving many questioning if carrying on with traditional holiday travel and gatherings as normal is the right thing to do. With COVID 19 cases increasing and reaching all-time highs in many areas of the United States, understanding the risks of contracting or spreading COVID 19 can be confusing and overwhelming. While many may choose to reduce their holiday travel or forgo gatherings altogether, many people will still be traveling and wanting to do so as safely as possible.
So how can you make sure you are traveling responsibly and safely during the coronavirus outbreak?
The CDC has released a set of guidelines and suggestions for safely traveling during the pandemic.
What to Know Before You Travel this Holiday Season
Before you begin your travels this year, there are a few things to be aware of when setting your plans:
1. Be aware of the number of cases in your destination.
Many areas are seeing higher than ever surges in coronavirus cases. Consider canceling or delaying your travel plans if you are planning to visit a hot spot, or area that is currently experiencing a high number of cases as it may increase your chance of contracting COVID 19 and spreading it to others.
2. Do not travel if you are feeling sick.
It is best to cancel or delay your travel plans if you are feeling sick or may have been exposed to the coronavirus, or will be visiting someone who is sick or has been exposed.
3. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your destination.
Since each state and cities may have different regulations for keeping their community safe, make sure you are up to date on their current mandated regulations regarding masks, testing, and quarantining after travel.
What to Know When Traveling
1. Wear a Mask
As we all know by now, wearing a mask or facial covering is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself from contracting or spreading the coronavirus. It is crucial that you continue the practice of wearing a mask or facial covering when traveling, especially since social distancing may be difficult in planes, airports, and other forms of public transportation.
Opting for a 3 Ply, KN95, or N95 mask over a cloth mask is always a good idea when you will be in close contact with others outside of your home as they offer a higher level of protection. 3 Ply face masks offer an effective filtration rate of 95% for viruses 3 microns or larger, and N95 and KN95 face masks effectively filter out viruses .1 microns or larger.
2. Keep Your Hands Clean
Consistently washing your hands whenever possible is another important step in reducing the spread of COVID 19. Always keep hand sanitizer on hand for use when access to soap and water may be limited.
When it comes to hand sanitizer, make sure you are choosing one that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol to ensure proper sanitization.
3. Social Distance Whenever Possible
Social distancing on airplanes, trains, and other public transit methods is typically difficult. However, do your best to distance in airports and other public areas whenever possible. According to the CDC, your risk of contracting the virus increases when you are within 6 ft of someone infected for more than 15 minutes.
4. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, and Mouth
The virus can live on surfaces for extended periods of time. Making sure you are keeping your hands sanitized and reducing facial touching significantly reduces your chance of contracting or spreading COVID 19.
5. Sanitize Communal Areas You Come In Contact With
Keeping sanitizing wipes on hand while traveling is a great way to make sure you are not touching or coming in contact with infected surfaces, especially during holiday travel on public transit.
Alcohol wipes with a high alcohol content can effectively sanitize areas around you when traveling. Use to sanitize seats in airports and airplanes, as well as railings, door knobs, and other surfaces that may be touched by many in public areas. In addition opting for a sanitizing spray is also a great option!
Here are the CDC’s Tips for Reducing the Spread of COVID 19 in Various Travel Situations:
When in Public
While traveling, you will be coming into contact with many people who you do not know. Here are the important steps to take to reduce your risk of spreading or contracting the virus when in public:
- Wear a mask - We recommend opting for a 3 Ply, KN95, or N95 face mask for optimal protection from the COBID 19 virus.
- Social Distance - Do you best to maintain at least a 6 ft distance from others that do not live in your immediate household whenever possible.
When Visiting Public Rest Stops and Restrooms
During traveling, making rest stops and visits to a public bathroom will be inevitable. Here is how to protect yourself from spreading or contracting the virus at rest stops and public restrooms:
- Wash your hands - always wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use Hand Sanitizer - if you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. It is always a good idea to keep hand sanitizer in your car or purse at all times.
If you are traveling a long distance by car, you will eventually need to make a stop for gas. Here is how to protect yourself from getting sick at a gas station:
- Sanitize the Pump - use alcohol and disinfecting wipes to ensure the pump and buttons are clean before touching them.
- Sanitize your Hands - use hand sanitizer to properly sanitize your hands after pumping gas. Make sure the hand sanitizer you choose has an alcohol content of 60% alcohol or more.
What Should You Do After Your Travel?
You’ve made it back home safely and are feeling well and healthy, but that does not mean that you are out of the woods. As we know, some people may be asymptomatic carriers and never appear to be sick while others may not display symptoms right away but can be contagious.
Once you arrive home from travel, it will be important to continue your safety practices for up to 14 days to ensure you truly are not ill and do not contribute to spreading the virus.
- Pay close attention to your symptoms, if you are starting to experience any flu-like symptoms visit a testing clinic and/or call your doctor.
- Continue wearing your mask in public.
- Stay home as much as possible. The less you are out in public, the less likely you are to spread illness.
- Frequently wash and sanitize your hands.
- Maintain a 6 ft social distance from others in public areas.
- Get tested! The only way to truly know if you are sick, is to go to a testing facility and get tested for the virus.
Helpful Items to Bring With Your When Traveling During COVID 19
If you find yourself traveling over the holidays (or any other time) during the COVID 19 outbreak, there are a few items you make sure you have on hand that will help protect you from contracting or spreading the virus, including:
- Face masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Sanitizing agents
What is the Best Face Mask to Wear During Holiday Travel During Coronavirus?
Most states, cities, and businesses now require the mandatory wearing of face masks or some form of facial covering when out in public areas where social distancing may not be possible. Here are our face mask recommendations for holiday travel during the pandemic:
1. KN95 FDA Whitelist Face Mask
KN95 face masks have been shown to be effective at filtering out 95% of airborne particles .1 micron or larger. They are constructed with either 4 or 5 layers of protection to protect against illnesses like COVID 19 virus, seasonal flu, as well as pollen and other common allergens.
There are many different KN95 masks on the market, however the FDA has released an Appendix A Whitelist of approved KN95 masks that are acceptable to be worn in medical settings and to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. You can find this list here.
2. N95 Face Masks
Long before COVID 19, N95 masks have been used by medical professionals in medical settings to protect against spreading bacteria, viruses, and other airborne illnesses. Similar to the KN95 face masks, N95 face masks are constructed with 4 layers of protection and effectively filter out 95% of particles .1 micron or larger which include the coronavirus.
3. 3 Ply Face Masks
3 Ply Face masks, commonly called ‘medical masks’, are a convenient and effective way to protect yourself and those around you from spreading or contracting COVID 19 while traveling. Available in pack sizes ranging from 10 to 50 as well as bulk options, 3 Ply masks are constructed with 3 layers of protection for everyday use out in public.
Find out more information about the differences of 3 Ply, KN95, and N95 face masks here.
What Other Personal Protective Equipment Should You Bring with You When Traveling During the Holidays?
1. Hand Sanitizer
When purchasing hand sanitizer, make sure you are getting a sanitizer that is formulated with a minimum of 60% alcohol content to ensure you are able to properly clean your hands.
2. Sanitizing Wipes
Keep alcohol sanitizing wipes on hand to effectively sanitize door handles, chairs, and other areas in public areas to make sure you are not touching infected areas.
3. Sanitizing Spray
Similar to sanitizing wipes, an alcohol based sanitizing spray is a quick and easy way to spray down areas of common use. Especially beneficial for businesses, medical offices, and schools, a cleansing spray will help make sure you are protecting yourself, patrons, and family from spreading illness.
No matter how you are choosing to spend your holiday season this year, it is important that we all do our part of help reduce the spread of COVID 19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance whenever possible! From all of us at Source Ortho, we are wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season.
Use coupon code MASK20 for 20% off of all protective face masks at sourceortho.com.