What’s With the Shades – Up or Down?
Some of us like the window seat, some of us like the aisle seat. None of us like the middle seat. But whichever seat you choose, each seat comes with its own problems.
Usually the window seat occupant is the least put out, by demands of others. But that’s not entirely true. At different times throughout the flight they are asked by the crew to lower their shade or raise their shade. The reason they are asked to raise the shades in take-off and landing of the plane, is not for the enjoyment of the passengers or to upset the window seat taker. It is because most accidents occur usually during take-offs and landings. Therefore the crew are better able to quickly assess the emergency situation and the location of the aircraft in relation to the exits. If there is a fire or related hazards the crew have no more than 90 seconds to get the passengers off the plane.
A window seat taker may be asked to lower the shades during the flight, especially if the sun rays are very bright and blinding, to the crew and other passengers. Although often thought that it was because of exposure to radiation, this risk is extremely low and non-existent to the casual traveller. Lights may also be dimmed at this time so that our eyes can adjust to the natural light. This becomes especially true in the case of a sudden evacuation. Our eyes will be able to adjust much quicker to the possible blinding sunlight, so less chance of disorientation.
That feeling you experience when you travel over many different time zones, causing your circadian clock to be thrown off track and leaving your body in a state of confusion and disarray. This can leave you with a feeling of grogginess, disorientation, upset stomach, headaches, insomnia and general fatigue. To minimize your chances of getting jet lag there are a few things you can do before and during your trip.
Rest – Try to rest, and take a nap before your trip. Some people think that they will sleep on the plane, but there are many reasons why this may not actually happen, and there are other reasons why you should only count on taking short naps in-flight, instead of bedding down for an 8 hour sleep.
Dehydration – Drink lots of water, this will help you to stay hydrated and lessen your chances of developing a headache, stomach cramps, leg cramps, feeling groggy and just that general feeling of being hung over.
Alcohol – Keep your consumption to a minimum. A glass of wine/spirit/beer with dinner should be enough. Again excess alcohol causes dehydration, inebriation, leaving you feeling groggy and heavy headed, worsening the side of effects of jet lag. Also alcohol has the opposite effect in helping us to sleep, it actually can cause us to become very restless and agitated.
Also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis, a DVT can occur in anyone. The older you are may put you at a higher risk, but even young people who have poor exercise, diet or weight issues are also at risk.
The pressure in the cabin of a plane causes fluid to leave the blood circulation and pool in the soft tissue surrounding these vessels, causing swelling. Less fluid in the blood stream can lead the blood to become stickier and thicker, making it more like sludge. This is where the problem arises, as the thickened blood can form an embolus or better known as a clot. If that clot breaks off and travels to the heart or lungs, it can become trapped in the tiny vessels of these organs and cause a life-threatening situation. To counter act this from occurring, you can wear compression stockings, also known as Travel Socks.
When flying for long periods of time, it is important to get up and walk in the aisles every couple of hours, to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing through your lower extremities. Another good precaution would be to take a low-dose aspirin a couple of days prior to travel. But the most important preventative measure that anyone can do – as we have talked about already – is to drink plenty of water. Besides keeping you well hydrated and improving your overall well-being, drinking lots of water will increase your need to get up and go to the bathroom. The more you get up to go to the bathroom, the more you are moving around. And the more you move around the less likely you are to suffer from a DVT. And hey! Don’t worry about bothering your seat mate every time you have to get up. Look at it from this point of view. You’re probably saving their life.
What to Wear
When we board a plane, the last thing we think about is, “Let me make sure that the clothes I am wearing are practical for an emergency.” That almost sounds absurd. So instead, don’t think emergency… Think comfortable!
Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. This makes sense if not for any other reason than, most flights have a cool air flow. But the other sensible reason would be because, if there was an emergency situation you would not want your extremities exposed to any potential dangers of the aircraft – Debris, broken glass, extreme heat, extreme cold, metal objects, body fluids. The more you are covered, the more first line of defense and protection you can offer yourself
Wear flat shoes, even it is just for comfort, high heels are an impractical hindrance to your own safety. But in the case of an emergency,those high heels will have to go because, they will slow you down. With no shoes you are leaving your feet exposed to all kinds of dangers and hazards. The same goes for sandals and flip flops. These are not very practical footwear, as they will also slow you down if you have to run during an emergency evacuation.
Things to Carry
A small emergency bag is a good idea to have packed and carry with you on all flights. Some of the items you may never need but having these items as insurance are a good habit to form.
- Baby Aspirin – Low dose 81mg chewable. To be used to reduce DVT’s, in an emergency case of chest pain or chest discomfort for yourself or another passenger.
- Face mask – becoming more common use on flights as the air quality is so poor and the air borne infections are on the rise.
- Travel-size hand sanitizer – touching just about everything on the plane is plagued with all kinds of contaminants.
- Ear plugs for decompression of the ear canal when the flight is taking off and especially when landing. Also ear plugs to minimize the noise on some flights – irritable children, snorers, coughers, talkers.
There are other precautions you may want to consider before your next flight:
- Wear contacts – the air on a plane is very dry and can cause your eyes to be irritated
- Avoid taking the ice in your drinks – high level of salmonella, and other water borne bacteria
- Don’t use the blankets – they are not usually cleaned, same goes for the pillows
- Don’t drink the tea or coffee – they use the tap water, same level of water borne bacteria
- Use a tissue when flushing the toilet and opening the bathroom handle – and then use your hand sanitizer.
- Don’t walk barefoot in the plane – the carpet is dirty, leaving you open to fungal foot infections.
- Leave the air vents open – it may be the only small amount of air circulation occurring on the plane.
Mostly everything that is listed here, we are all aware of. But sometimes we all just need a simple reminder so that we can always remember – Think Health, Stay Safe Before Our Next Trip.