Your chances ofgetting a cold may go up as much as 20 percentwhen you board a plane,thanks to dried-out mucous membranes and sneezy people who leave germs on tray tables (where those little buggerscan live for up to 72 hours).But now,a new study has revealed that there's one place on planes that germs seem tolove....
...your seat-back pocket.Researchers from Auburn Universitytested how long antibiotic-resistant MRSA and E.coli bacteria could live in an airplane under typical travel conditions.They observed the bacteria on six surfaces: an armrest,a tray table,a metal toilet handle,a window shade,and both cloth and leather seat pockets.
Believe it or not,the MRSA bacteria lived for theleastamount of time on the toilet handle.The seat-back pockets,on the other hand?Germs stuck around there for more than a week (makes you think differently about flipping through those in-flight catalogs,huh?).Meanwhile,E.coli bacteria survived the longest on the armrest (about four days).The researchers saythat the outer membranes of certain bacteria may make them more likely to survive in adverse environments—and that this study just underscores the need to stay vigilant in practicing good hygiene on planes.
So!How to do that,exactly?A few ideas for reaching your destination relatively germ-free:
Well,avoid touching the seat-back pocket!You don't want to tuck any of your belongings in there for the duration of the flight (sticking your phone in there is a definite don't) either,because they can pick up bacteria.
Stay hydrated with plenty of water,and spritz your nose with a saline spray.If there are sick passengers within three seats of you in any direction,the nasal spray can help give you an added layer of protection against their germs.
Wear socks.Everyone has to take their shoes off at the security gate,upping the chances of picking up abacterial or fungal infectionfrom other people's sweaty feet.
Keep your hands clean with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,and use a disinfecting wipe to clean off your tray table.
Aim your vent so that the air goes just in front of your face (it's filtered air,and it can help move germs away from you).
Ignore airplane pillows and blankets altogether—too many possible germs may be lurking there too.
Have you ever gotten sick from a plane trip?What other germ-avoiding tips do you follow?