Feb 4th, 2020

Coronavirus and the Flu: How to Stay Healthy in the Air

Posted in Aviation News

With the World Health Organization’s warning about the Coronavirus, many scheduled flights to the Far East have been cancelled.  Those flying domestically, however, still wonder about their chances of catching the Coronavirus, or some other virus, while airborne.  Here are three tips to keep you heathy in the air.

It’s Not Your Imagination

Some say that after flying in a commercial jet airliner, they seem to get sick.  Is that their imagination?  Probably not.  The Journal of Environmental Health Research and other scholarly journals have documented a significant increase in one’s chances of getting sick after flying.  It may not be the Coronavirus, but the cold or flu is not fun either. So what can be done?  Doctor Aviation recommends these three simple rules.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Hands are where germs collect on the human body.  Touching that seat back on the way to our seat.  Opening the overhead bin, latching the safety belt, closing the tray table and pressing the button to recline the seat.  All of the surfaces contain germs left by dozens of individuals who preceded me and you on that airplane. 

When we touch our face, scratch our cheek, cover our mouth with a yawn, we are putting our germ invested hands near our ear, noses and mouth.  All areas where germs can easily get inside our bodies.  If you have to itch that ear, try to grab a napkin to do the touching.

Use the Air Vent

It is right next to the reading light.  That vent is bringing filtered air down to you.  That filtered air is extracting over 99% of the germs.  Whereas the air being exhaled by those around you is not filtered.  By pointing the air vent directly down in front your face and chest, you are creating a cone of clean air.  You can’t help the air you breathe for minutes on your way to and from the exits, however, you can control what you are breathing for hours while you fly. 

Wash Those Hands

During my Air Force career, I have been fortunate to know four members of the Thunderbirds.  It has been a privilege being around these gentlemen.  Once I had a conversation with the Thunderbirds Flight Surgeon.  A flight surgeon (aka flight doc) is a doctor trained in aviation issues and they are tasked to keep the flyers on a base healthy. 

I asked him, “Doc, these Thunderbirds fly hundreds of shows a year, how in the world do you keep them healthy”?  He did not bat an eye, “I tell them to wash their hands all of the time.  That is the number one way we spread germs.  These guys shake a lot of hands, they give a lot of autographs, they are constantly touching things that exposes them to germs.  Right after an autograph sessions, or a meet and greet, I tell them to head to the bathroom to wash up.  Especially before eating”.  The same holds true for the flying public.

These Three Things

Plus making sure you drink plenty of water (cabin air has less moisture in the air that what we breathe on the ground) will go a long way in keeping you healthy.  You may not be at risk for the Coronavirus, but the flu or common cold would be happy to “jump on you” during your next flight.  For more great tips see this article from the Point Guy.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>