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Nearly half of Americans plan to travel during the 2022 holiday season. Of those, 69% plan to hit the highways. Between highway travel to family gatherings and inclement weather, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day isn’t without health risks. 

Learn how to stay safe while spending the holidays with your loved ones. 

 

Update vaccines

Holiday travel occurs during the peak of cold and flu season. Germs can spread easily on planes and trains, at holiday parties and during family gatherings. Make sure your vaccines are up to date before travel.

Get an influenza vaccination and COVID-19 booster, if eligible. Updated bivalent COVID-19 booster shots are available for adults and children over the age of five. The booster protects against the original COVID-19 strain as well as against some of the most common variants. 

Stay home if you develop symptoms of illness. Even if you’re not feeling sick, consider taking a COVID-19 test before gathering with large groups of people to reduce risk. 

Helpful links from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

COVID-19 vaccine FAQs

Booster shot recommendations

 

Be prepared for the unexpected

Be prepared if your trip gets extended. Take enough medication and vitamins to last longer than the intended duration of your trip. You may not be able to get prescription medications filled in another state, especially over a holiday. Make sure you have all your physicians’ contact information either written down or programmed in your phone. 

 

Prep your vehicle

Before hitting the road, give your car a once over. Gauge the air in the tires, check the oil and the battery charge, and inspect the windshield wipers. Be sure to stock your vehicle with emergency essentials including:

  • Blanket
  • Cellphone charger and ideally a portable charging device
  • Deicing windshield wiper fluid
  • Drinking water
  • Emergency roadside flares
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Nonperishable, shelf-stable food items like nuts and granola bars
  • Tire-changing equipment, including a spare

 

Plan for inclement weather

Plan how to respond if you become stranded if you’ll be driving where winter weather could occur. 

Remember, it’s safer to stay where you are rather than trying to reach help. Call 9-1-1 and alert the dispatcher to your location and the amount of food and water you have on hand. Call a friend or relative with the same information. Keep your phone charged. 

Conserve body heat by wrapping up in a blanket or extra clothes in your car. Run the car as needed to keep the interior moderately warm. Be sure to clear snow from the exhaust to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 

You may choose to dig yourself out if you have a shovel and sand or cat litter in your car. Don’t overexert yourself and keep your flashers on. Clear a path back to the road once you’ve cleared snow from the top, sides and windshield of the car. Turn your wheels from side to side to get traction. Go slowly. If your tires spin, let off the accelerator. Going faster will only dig the vehicle in deeper. 

 


Winter driving safety

According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, 119,000 vehicle crashes occurred during wintry conditions in 2020. Drive safely on snow-covered or icy roads by following these tips. 

  • Avoid fatigue by stopping to rest every three hours; switch drivers if possible
  • Give yourself plenty of time to stop on icy or wet roads
  • Leave plenty of distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you
  • Pass snowplows with care
  • Slow down
  • Steer into a skid
  • Stomp on antilock brakes; pump non-antilock brakes

These tips will help you get where you are going safely so you can enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones. 

 

Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you. Explore our services.

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