Cedar Creek SilverbackToday a health emergency was declared in the United States because of the recent spread of the swine flu. For Seasonal and Full-Time RVers on the move to their summer stays, this is an issue we don’t take likely.

Many Seasonals and Full-Timers winter along the Texas-Mexico or Arizona-Mexico border and either make shopping trips across the border or come in contact with those who have. And the winter RVers are a mix of American and Canadian citizens.

So not only is there a concern of being exposed to it crossing state lines, but from Mexico or the US into Canada. With cases reported in New York, many of our Canadian Seasonal friends who spend a month in New York before returning home for the summer are worried about it.

There are precautions you can take to prevent yourself from getting and spreading disease. My family and I actually became more conscious of the spread of diseases several years ago when I was undergoing cancer treatment. I couldn’t be around anyone sick or exposed to other diseases during that time. It changed how we viewed the “outside” world.

Here are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while you are on the road.

Have hand sanitizer in your vehicle. Make sure you have a small bottle for each person (put it in each person’s door or the center council and mark their name on it). The best kind to have is the ones that require no water. Each time people get into the vehicle, they should clean their hands. If the person handled other public items prior to getting in (such as touching a door or shopping cart), make sure he or she wipes off their door handle, door lock or window area (anywhere that is touched) with a handi-wipe.

They make convenient little containers and packages of handi-wipes. Some are even designed to fit inside your cup holder – talk about “handy”! Also make sure to have a liter bag in your vehicle to dispose of dirty handi-wipes and facial tissue. We dispose of our liter bag every stop and put in a new one.

Have individual handi-wipes in your purse, pocket or backpack and use them! Do not rely on public restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked public restroom.

If you are an RVer currently on the road, it’s best that you don’t rely on public restrooms. Use your own RV if you can get access to the bathroom. Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom during transit because they don’t like carrying extra water or don’t want to have anything in their holding tanks.

You don’t have to have your water tank filled to use your toilet. You can use purchase hand sanitizer that requires no water to wash your hands and place a gallon (or two) jug of water in your bathroom sink to use to flush.

If you’re worried about “stuff” sitting in the bottom of your empty black water tank, place a bag of ice in it before you leave. This is a great way to clean your tank sensors – as the ice rocks back and forth it breaks up material and then melts leaving some water in the tank. This is not a great deal of water weight to be carrying either, but enough to have in the tank if you use your bathroom without having freshwater.

Another thing to avoid is eating out while you are on the road. We’re RVers – we’re self-contained! We shouldn’t rely on McDs or Flying J to feed us every hundred miles. Make some sandwiches before you leave and either place them in your refrigerator or in a cooler in your tow. Pull over at a rest area or find a parking spot wherever you fuel up and have a picnic. If you must stop to have that Whopper, then use sense. Make sure you have your handi-wipes and use them!

One thing that bothers us is the lack of sanitation in restaurants. Ever have a sickly cashier walk over to get your fries? Ever see the cook come out of the restroom wearing his or her apron? Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Let the manager know you saw the cook going into the restroom with an apron, let them know they aren’t washing their hands, etc… It could save someone’s life!

When I had to go out in public during my cancer treatment, I wore a surgical mask. Yes, they look geeky, but if you find yourself in an area where there is any type of sickness, you’ll be glad to have one. They can be found at most pharmacies or medical supplies. I bought my last box of disposable ones at a Harbor Freight store for under $3. We keep a handful in our vehicle and I always have one in my purse. You never know when they will come in handy. Last summer during the California wildfires, we found the smoke particulate levels very high (they gave daily reports on how bad it was) and if we had to be out in it, the masks worked great.

Something we recently started doing is when we stop for the night, we spray Lysol inside our truck. The next day or whenever we are ready to leave, we spray our fifth-wheel with Lysol before hooking it up.

Most RVers do have their own cell phones and computers; however, if you don’t and have to rely on a pay phone or visit a local library to log-on, remember to use handi-wipes over the phone and number pad and the computer keyboard and mouse.

These are just a few ways to protect your family while travelling. With the spread of disease and major health issues today, this is a concern you shouldn’t take lightly.