In the Air
Airplane cabins are notoriously dry, with humidity levels dropping to as low as 10%. At this point the mucous membranes in the nose and throat dry up, and we become more susceptible not only to infections, but headaches, cramps, fatigue, as well as dry skin. Coffee and sodas are diuretics and can dry you out. Water increases your energy, assists in weight loss, flushes toxins, relieves you of fatigue & boosts your immune system. The best defense against dehydration is to drink lots of water.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight. Recommended: 8 ounces every hour.
Airplanes are filled with germs. Your skin is your best defense at blocking germs from entering into your system. Mucous membranes, cuts, wounds, cracks to the skin are excellent portals for the entrance of germs into your system.
The CDC refers to hand washing as a “do-it-yourself vaccine,” making it an excellent line of defense against preventing sickness. The friction of rubbing your hands together is part of the mechanical process of removing germs, bacteria and viruses from your skin. It is recommended that you wash your hands frequently and for a minimum of 30 seconds. Use lotion frequently to avoid dry cracked hands, fending off yet another portal of entry for bacteria and viruses.
Resist the urge to touch your mouth, eye area or nose. Robert Schwartz, MD, chairman of family medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine states, “The main way a virus gets into your system is via the oral and respiratory nasal route.” Wash your hands after blowing your nose. Dry eyes? Use moisturizing drops. Not only will this relieve the irritation but it will also alleviate the tendency to touch your eyes. If you have a cut or open wound, keep it covered and dry with a bandage. If it gets wet, change the bandage. Moisture is a great medium for bacterial growth.
Close the lid to the toilet prior to flushing. Flushing sprays germs and bacteria from the inner bowl into the air (basically, microorganisms of what was deposited prior to flushing). Don’t forget to use a paper towel for lowering lid, touching the faucet, door handle, etc.
If taking in a make-up bag or toiletries, make sure the counter is dry and then lay a paper towel down to protect your items from contact with the counter. If brushing your teeth, use bottled water in a cup for rinsing, then dispose of the cup in the trash (using a paper towel to open the trash).
Use sanitizing wipes to wipe down the interphone, jump seat area, seat belt buckles, and galley counter tops. Do not place trash or shoes on the galley counter tops.
Travelling with a cold or sinus infection can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Not to mention the fact that you are contagious and your co-workers don’t want what you have!
Don’t fly when sick. However, if you find yourself on a flight, and experience sinus and or ear pain, a decongestant nose spray may provide relief. Recommended: Keep a nasal decongestant spray in your bag when you fly. More importantly notify your supervisor, contact Global Lifeline and don’t continue your trip until you are released to fly.
Seasonal immunizations and certain other immunizations, such as flu shots, flu mist, pneumonia immunizations, whooping cough and adult shingles immunizations, are available not only from your health care provider, but are also provided by most pharmacies or other mass immunizer locations.
Be proactive and stay healthy!
The benefits of exercise include:
- Boosts the immune system.
- Increases energy levels.
- Decreases stress.
- Improves moods.
- Promotes better sleep.
All of which are critical to the stress and challenges we face as Flight Attendants.
Pack a pair of tennis shoes and work out or comfortable clothes and:
- Utilize the gym at your layover hotel.
- Go for a walk or run.
- If you’re a shopper, do some power walking at the mall.
- Rent a bike if available on your layover.
- Yoga or stretching exercises in your hotel room.
- Get out and explore the fun activities that are unique to your layover city.
Note of caution: Always be aware of your environment for safety concerns (situational awareness), and when possible, pair up with a crewmember or your entire crew for outdoor excursions.
The benefits of healthy eating are:
- Increased productivity
- Enhanced mood
- Longer life
- Improved sleep
- Maintain a healthy weight
Plan ahead and save your wallet, save your waistline:
- Pack healthy food to take with you on your trip. Some hotels have a refrigerator in the room to keep your food fresh.
- When you make a meal at home and have leftovers, place serving size portions in plastic containers and freeze. Do this whenever you have leftovers so that when you’re getting ready for a trip, grab one or more and place in your insulated food bag. Take out on the plane, place in a tin, and pop it in the oven.
- Costco and Trader Joe’s have some great, prepared salads and meals to keep on hand and grab as you walk out the door.
- Smoothies and healthy shakes can be frozen and ready to go when you are.
- Fruits and raw vegetables are easy and good for you!
These are only a handful of suggestions. Your best resources are other Flight Attendants. Ask or observe what they do; you will always learn something new from your fellow F/As.
On The Ground
It’s believed the dirtiest item in a hotel room is the remote. Not far behind are doorknobs, phone receivers, toilet flushers, faucets and ice buckets. Added to the list are the bedspreads. Sheets are washed prior to your check in.
When it comes to bedbug infestations, even the most upscale hotels with the strictest sanitary practices aren’t immune. And unfortunately, most do battle bedbugs from time to time thanks to an ever-changing international clientele.
When packing for your trip throw in disinfectant wipes, a travel size disinfectant spray (may not be used on the aircraft), a clear bag and a pair of slippers for your hotel stay. When you arrive, inspect the room for safety. Use the buddy system and look out for each other while one F/A stands outside in the hall and you look under the bed, in the closet, the bathroom, and behind the drapes, to make sure you’re the only one in the room. Don’t use the safety lock until you’ve done this in case you discover you have company and need to make a quick exit. Once you’ve deemed the room secure, go with the other F/A and watch out while s/he does the same. (Safety First)
Inspect the room for health hazards, starting with the bathroom. With a tissue, lift the toilet seat and spray both sides of the seat with disinfectant, even if it looks spotless. Next, use disinfectant wipes on frequently touched hot spots: faucets, toilet lever, doorknobs, light switches, the phone, and clock. Don’t bother trying to clean the crevices of the remote control. Instead slide it into a clear plastic bag. Use it this way during your stay, inside its protective cover.
Don’t sit or place any belongings on the bed until you’ve checked them. Check your mattress, bed frame, and headboard — you’re looking for small brown stains. Bedbugs are hard to see (they hide during the day and can run away quickly when disturbed), but they leave behind brown bloodstains when they process the blood of their victims. Be sure to check under the sheets and mattress pad, too.
Limit direct skin contact with the carpet and furniture so you don’t pick up any potential fungus. That means wear socks or slippers and be fully clothed when sitting on chairs or the sofa.
Before a shower, squirt shampoo in the tub and run the water on hot for a minute to decrease the number of germs where you’ll be standing, even if the bottom of the tub looks clean. If you have a cut on your foot, though, bandage it and wear flip-flops.
Sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing, but can be very elusive in our work environment due to a multitude of factors. Some examples are:
- Time zone changes.
- Irregular work hours.
- Anxiety of waking up on time for an early check in.
- Stressed out from the events of the day.
- Problems at home and being away and unable to solve them.
- Room near the elevator or ice machine.
- Noisy neighbors.
Depending on the time of day and what your schedule is, here are a few suggestions:
- If you need to take a nap, try to keep it short so you’ll sleep better at night.
- If you need complete darkness when you sleep use the pant hangers from the closet with the clips to clip drapes together and prevent light from entering your room.
- Request a room away from the elevator and ice machine.
- Contact the front desk to report noisy neighbors or request a room change.
- Wear ear plugs/eye masks.
- Set the room clock, your cell phone clock and request a wakeup call so you can sleep easily knowing that you won’t miss your check in.
- Dim the light display on your hotel clock and make sure the time set is the correct time.
- Pack the night before except what you’ll need in the morning. One less thing to worry about. Especially if you hit the snooze button too many times.
- Try mediation or relaxation techniques for stress.
- Make a list of what you’ll do when you get home. Then put it away.
- Use a white noise or sleep machine.
- No computers or electronics in bed.
- If you have a device running iOS (iPhone iPad) turn on “Night Shift” which reduces the amount of blue light emitted from your display. It can be found under Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift and can also be found as a toggle in the iOS Control center.
- Ask fellow FAs what their secrets are for getting a good night’s sleep.