We've made the point that measles is preventable — just get the utterly safe vaccine for you and your kids, for heaven's sake. But what if you don't want to catch any illness when visiting Disneyland or any other theme park? In an effort to help make that particular wish come true, here are 10 steps you can take to avoid getting sick on your next theme park visit or vacation.
1. Get vaccinated. Including a flu shot.
Don't listen to the anti-vaxxers and their discredited claims. Talk with your physician, then get vaccinated for everything you can get vaccinated against, including this year's flu shot. Vaccines are often free in the United States now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, so cost shouldn't be an issue. No, the flu shot is not perfect in preventing the flu, but as with all immunizations, it shifts the odds of avoiding it in your favor. The more people who get vaccinated, the better the "herd immunity" will be for everyone, including those too young to be vaccinated.
2. Wash your hands.
Once vaccinated, you can further protect yourself from an even wider range of illnesses by keeping your hands clean. Duck into the rest rooms and wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times during the day, including before and after eating and using the toilet.
3. Keep your hands to yourself.
Keeping your hands clean helps reduce your odds for infection, and so will keeping your hands to yourself. By that, we mean not needlessly running your hands on handrails or other surfaces in the park where germs might reside. Keep your hands to yourself as much as you can, but do use that handrail if you need it to keep yourself safe from falling. (If you avoid the flu and end up with a sprained ankle instead, that's no win.) After you've touched something (including merchandise in stores!), keep your unwashed hands away from your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, to reduce your chances of transmitting germs to the places where they're most able to enter your body. Then go wash your hands.
4. Sleep well.
Getting a full night's sleep before your visit helps to ensure that your body has the strength it needs not just to get you through the day, but to fight off any illness you might be exposed to during that visit.
5. Slow down.
We all want to get to the park early and enjoy as many attractions as we can before the lines build. But when you first start to feel tired — or worse, start to feel the symptoms of an illness coming on — slow down. Take a break, sit down and relax for a bit to give your body the opportunity to "catch up."
6. Eat fruits and vegetables.
Healthy snacks not only help your body to refuel to fight illness, a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help keep your system in prime condition to avoid sickness throughout the year.
7. Exercise more.
While a good diet can help you stay in shape, regular exercise can help keep your body in prime illness-fighting shape, too. Exercise also helps you build the stamina to get through all that walking around a theme park, helping to keep you from getting tired and putting your body at risk for falling ill.
8. Travel more.
Get out there, and let your body get used to being around large groups of unfamiliar people in unfamiliar environments. Together, you and your body will learn how to stay well. The more you do this, the better you get at traveling healthy.
9. Don't go if you are sick.
The best way to help keep people from getting sick in theme parks is for sick people not to go to theme parks. If you're considering a day visit to a local park and you're not feeling well, please, just stay home and go another day! Everyone else at the park thanks you in advance for your consideration. (Seriously. Now congratulate yourself with a nice warm cup of tea, then go back to bed.) If you simply must be selfish about it, remember that visiting a theme park while sick wouldn't be much fun for you, anyway. Now, if you've spent hundreds of dollars on non-refundable airfare and hotels, or you get sick while you're already on vacation out of town, staying home might not be a desirable option. In that case, we offer our final item of advice:
10. If you do get sick, go for the mask.
Let's make this trend among Asian visitors a global practice. If you are feeling ill and must go out in public, wear a mask over your face to limit the spread of contaminants into the air around you. Slow down, stay hydrated, and read some of the excellent advice in Amanda Jenkins' post, What to do if you're sick at Walt Disney World, which applies to many other parks, as well.
Take care of yourself, and let's all help to take care of the people around us, too.Tweet
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