Going on a road trip? Here’s what you need during COVID-19
Road trips aren’t as common as they once were (a mere six months ago). But now that the world has eased its restrictions since the full-on global quarantine, people are on the road again for various reasons.
South Africa de-escalated all the way down from level 5 lockdown, to level 3 (although there have been several amendments to the level’s regulations over the last few weeks). Now, citizens are allowed to travel to other areas and industries have opened up, which means reps and courier drivers are back doing trips (both short and long-distance).
Some people are taking trips after the quarantine as a way to feel normal again. And that is also a viable reason. Mental health can be severely affected by something as traumatic as a pandemic or quarantine.
A road trip is any trip in a car, bus, or other land vehicles. The phrase usually refers to trips that take over an hour. If you happen to have to take one now, mid-pandemic, there are new rules and old rules that you should adhere to.
Let’s talk coronavirus safety, before road safety. You are legally obliged to wear a mask in all public spaces. If you are alone in your car, you can be mask free, but be sure to take one with you for when you reach your destination.
If you are sharing the ride, wear your mask at all times. Yes, it can get stuffy, but it’s a necessary precaution. Open a window if the weather permits. Take several breaks or pit stops on longer trips so that people can get out of the car for a minute and remove the masks in open spaces.
Keep extra masks in the cubbyhole. Remember to wash your mask after each use.
Shannon Sovndal, MD, an emergency medical services medical director in Boulder, Colorado and the author of Fragile, told Refinery 29 it might be exactly what your family needs right now: “A road trip is a great idea if you’re taking the drive with your pre-established quarantine crew. The tricky part is if you say you’re going to take a road trip with four separate friends who have been staying with different groups of people,” he says.
Sondval continues that if you are in a car with people who you haven’t been quarantined with: “That poses some risk because you’re going to be in a tight car, and that’s what we’re worried about.”
“This virus isn’t some voodoo virus that doesn’t act normally. The closer proximity you are with a higher viral load, the more likely you are to get a virus.”
Masks and sanitiser are the new normal. Have sanitiser in your cubby for when you need to interact with others. An example of this would be stopping for petrol. The attendant will need to take your card or key. Be sure to sanitise your hands before and after your purchase.
Also, you never know what happens along the road. Having your own sanitiser makes things easier.
Road Trip Snacks and beverages
Now we can start with the more normal provisions. If you’re going on a longer trip, having something to keep your blood sugar up is important. Also, snacks make everything better. Everything.
Also, remember to stay hydrated. The best drink to have is water, especially if your trip takes place on a hot day. But don’t drink too much too quickly; there may not be a rest stop close by!
It’s a great idea to keep a cooler within arm’s reach from the driver’s seat, says Asher Fergusson. Usually, on a road trip, your food options are limited mainly to fast food. With a supply of your own snacks, you’ll have easy access to cheaper and healthier options. This cooler is perfect for keeping your snacks and drinks cool during the ride.
Most cars are able to charge your phone through the lighter port. New cars may in fact be fitted with a USB socket for your charger cable. Be sure to charge your phone beforehand, but also take your cable along.
Also, recharge your airtime and data before leaving home. You need to be able to make contact or be contactable in an emergency.
iER is a dedicated emergency response and disaster management network designed to respond to the emergency needs of all South Africans. A national network that connects you to a centralised 24-hour call centre that dispatches emergency personnel when you need them.
iER’s trained call centre staff are expertly trained to assist you through an emergency and dispatch the exact emergency response team you need – no matter where you are; on the road, at home, at the mall.
Road Trip First Aid Kit
Check that you have your standard first aid kit and health supplies before taking to the road.
Keep a supply of any and all first aid items you could potentially need like bandages, plasters, ointments, pain killers, and other usual kit essentials. Also, keep a flashlight in the boot and some extra water (not for drinking).
Car safety kits
Alongside the first aid supplies, remember to have your spare wheel inflated and ready as a backup. A car jack, jumper cables, and whatever else you will need in a car-related catastrophe.
Most importantly, tell someone where you are going and what time you will likely arrive. If all else fails, people will know to check up on you if you don’t arrive at your destination.