Swine Flu - How Far Would You Go to Keep Your Kids Healthy?

Filed under: Opinions

This coming weekend, my 2- and 5-year-old are traveling by airplane to visit their grandparents in Arizona for three weeks. Grandpa will be flying in from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix and picking them up in Minneapolis to fly with them back to the Valley of the Sun. However, the recent outbreak of swine flu and, the number of yet unanswered questions about it's actual scope, has given us additional reasons to fret about putting our little treasures on an airplane without us.

The EU has urged Europeans to cancel travel plans to the US and Mexico and judging by comments on the web, plenty of Americans are also rethinking their air travel plans, especially those bound for Mexico. And honestly, we're rethinking our plans to send our kids to Arizona.

Truthfully, if my kids were flying to Billings, Montana, I'd be a lot less afraid of them contracting swine flu. But my kids are flying to Arizona, a state who's residents are more likely to travel to Mexico or come in contact with people coming from Mexico. In fact, much of the web chatter surrounds Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's decision not to test airplane travelers from Mexico for the virus, thought the State Department is issuing a warning urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Mexico. "Right now we don't think the facts warrant more active testing or screening of passengers coming in from Mexico," she said.

Save for breaking news that this flu has erupted into a full-blown pandemic, I'm still tentatively planning on sending my winter weary kids to grandma and grandpa's for some much needed bonding this coming weekend. In the meantime, I've been scouring the web to find the best advice on how to minimize their chance of contraction during travel. Here's what I've learned:

Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing with good old soap and water is the number one preventative measure you can take. Hand sanitizers are OK when soap isn't available, but they are not fully effective against viruses. Remember to always wash after touching handrails, pens, phones, remotes, or shaking hands.

Cover your mouth. Wearing a mask on your flight is a good idea, but only if it is industrial respirator strength and snugly fit. You can purchase them online with speedy delivery. Run of the mill masks sold at your local DIY store will not prevent transmission. However, they will prevent you from touching your nose and mouth, which will help cut down on transmission.

I've just purchased a box of 3M masks for the kid's flight. They will arrive by Wednesday. I'm also planning on stuffing grandpa's pockets with mini hand sanatizers. The hard part, will be trying to convince our toddler to keep his mask on during the flight. Good luck, Grandpa!

What are you doing to keep your kids healthy? And are you worried about swine flu, or do you think the response is greater than the actual illness?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.