As RV travelers, what should we be doing to protect ourselves and everyone else from the COVID-19 virus? The most basic advice to protect ourselves from the virus is to do the opposite of what we love to do as RV owners: Stop Traveling. The second-most important thing is to do the opposite of what most of us love to do as RV owners: Stop Socializing.
For expert guidance on the Coronavirus, please see the World Health Organization website.
We have cancelled our plans to return to Canada for the foreseeable future. This is despite getting the offer of summer work camping jobs at our favorite BC park. We are currently at our new casita on El Dorado Ranch, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico. We feel very fortunate and blessed to have this refuge right now.
To get home, we would have to travel up the West Coast of the USA, through some of the worst-hit virus areas on the continent. (Apart from the New York area.)
Distribution of COVID-19 Virus in the USA
This map shows the distribution of the COVID-19 virus in the USA.
Sure, we could try to travel through Arizona, Nevada, and Utah instead. But this would make the trip a lot longer. It would also be a learning curve that we don’t feel confident to tackle in the midst of a crisis. And it would not guarantee that we did not contract the virus.
Avoid Passing on the COVID-19 Virus
Also, if by chance we already have the virus, we would be taking it to places that are currently not heavily impacted. That would be unconscionable. It is possible to be carrying the virus and have no symptoms. Arizona, Nevada, and Utah have large senior populations. We don’t want to make any of them sick.
In our RV, we could do our best to stay at places like casino parking lots, and Harvest Hosts locations. At those places, we would use our own washrooms, and minimize contact with other people. But there would still be numerous times when we were forced to make contact with other people and public surfaces.
How the COVID-19 Virus is Transmitted
The three main methods of transmission of the virus (in order of potential to infect) are these:
- Water droplets from the sneezes or coughs of an infected person.
- Close human contact, such as shaking hands or touching.
- Touching surfaces that were touched by an infected person, and then touching your face.
Flattening the Curve of the COVID-19 Virus
The basic aim is to flatten the upward curve of the virus before the continent is overwhelmed by the hell now seen in countries like Italy. Yesterday (Sunday 15th March), Italy suffered an unprecedented 368 deaths. On the same day, it discovered an additional 3,590 cases of the corona virus, nearly 100 more than the increase during the day before. This is despite the country being pretty much totally shut down.
As RV travelers, we can help to flatten the curve by not traveling unnecessarily, and by practicing social isolation.
What Should RV Travelers Do Now?
Stop Traveling until the COVID-19 Virus is Contained
Our advice for others:
- If you are home right now and have travel plans, cancel your travel plans and stay home.
- If you are on the road right now, pick a destination where you would like to wait this out. Then, get there as fast as possible, and stay there.
- On your way, limit your social interactions as much as humanly possible, and sanitize your hands after you touch any public surfaces.
Be Ready for Possible Travel Restrictions
Another reason we cannot travel now is that to get home, we have to cross two international borders, and two state borders. It is extremely likely that these borders will start closing in the near future.
So, if you are not at the place where you would like to ride out this pandemic, please get there as fast as you can. While it is still possible.
Safety at Gas Stations
Just think about a trip in your RV. You have no choice but to stop and gas up from time to time. Each time you gas up, you are touching a gas pump and a touch pad that are touched by hundreds or thousands of people every day. Any one of these people could have been infected, and could have left the virus on the surfaces they touched.
If you decide to get a snack and use the washroom while at the gas station, you are at more risk. Both activities involve touching public surfaces, and some social interaction.
How to Reduce the Risk at Gas Stations
Pay at the pump for gas
Wipe down the pump handle and the touch pad before you touch them. Preferably with an anti-bacterial wipe, if you are lucky enough to be able to buy any. Then, wipe your hands after you get back to the wheel.
Note: I am including this link to anti-bacterial wipes in this post, but at this time, Amazon are sold out of every kind of anti-bacterial wipe. I hope that by the time you read this, they have found supplies. How I WISH I had stocked up when it was still possible! In any event, further on in this post is advice on how to make your own wipes.
Use your own washroom, not the public one at the gas station!
If you are forced to use a public one, don’t touch anything with your bare hands. Use your sleeve to protect your hands, or carry wipes and wipe everything down before touching surfaces.
Most RV travelers carry surgical gloves for dealing with our black tank. Consider donning these before you get out of your vehicle. And then throw them away as soon as you get back in. Keep a trash bag in the vehicle for the discarded gloves. I am using them for everything I do out of the home, including food shopping. People sometimes look at me a bit funny, but I do NOT care!
Avoid shopping at busy convenience stores at gas stores
Carry your own snacks with you, so you don’t have to buy them on the road.
Do not touch your face at the gas station until you are back in your vehicle and have sanitized your hands
But speaking for myself, I find it impossible not to touch my face. It is such a wired-in habit that I cannot seem to stop doing it. I am trying to learn to do it with the back of my hand, which is less likely to be contaminated. I am also less likely to touch my face if I am wearing gloves, or if I keep my arms folded, or I keep my hands behind my back.
Self-Isolate Yourself to Try to Avoid Contact with People Infected by COVID-19 Virus
Wherever you are, limit your social interactions as much as possible. Maggie and I are self-isolating, by not going to any businesses except those that are essential to life. We are planing to continue visiting with our closest friends, but only at our homes. That way, we all have some control over possible contaminants.
We are definitely not going to restaurants. I don’t want to be eating food when I don’t know if the person who prepared it is healthy. If they are not, my food could be infected with water droplets. Or if the person who carried the plate to my table is healthy. If they are not, the virus could be on my glass or on my knife and fork.
Protect Yourself from Accidental Infection with COVID-19 Virus
Here are some tips from my friend George Gough (M.Sc., Occ. Health), who used to teach courses about public safety and disease prevention:
- Avoid touching people (practice the elbow shake) and surfaces (keep your hands in your pockets). Practice, practice, practice.
- Wipe surfaces under your control (door knobs) with a 10% bleach solution, or peroxide for sensitive surfaces.
- Do NOT touch your face with your hands (that is the key way the virus is transmitted). Practice, practice, practice.
- If you cannot stop touching your face, consider wearing a paper respirator to prevent yourself from touching your face. You only need a respirator if someone is coughing or sneezing nearby. A paper mask will not do the job properly, because they do not seal properly. If someone is coughing or sneezing near you and you do not have the correct protection, hold your breath and move away quickly.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water whenever possible, especially after touching surfaces/people. Hand washing is the best full spectrum treatment for almost any serious contaminant as it simply physically washes everything away.
- Use hand sanitizer if washing is not practical, but realize that some bugs (often in hospital or cruise ship outbreaks, such as norovirus and C. difficile) are not killed by alcohol. Other solutions offer some control if they contain >60% alcohol. Even hydrogen peroxide will give some control. Harsher 10% bleach solution works well, but is more aggressive.
- Hand sanitizers are almost impossible to buy right now. Alternative hand sanitizers can be made by mixing 2/3 cup 99% rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and 1/3 cup 100% pure aloe vera gel.
Symptoms of COVID-19 Virus
The CDC states:
“The following symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure.
- Shortness of breath.”
Also, the CDC lists these emergency symptoms:
“If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.”
Stock up on Groceries
You don’t have to go crazy and buy a year’s worth of toilet paper. But if you have storage capacity in your RV, it would be a good idea to buy extra when you shop. This means you don’t have to go shopping as frequently. So, that will limit your social interactions. You will also be better prepared if shortages develop later on.
Bottom Line on Safety Precautions During the COVID-19 Virus
None of us wants to get sick, and none of us wants to make other people sick. So, we all need to limit our traveling, and limit our social interactions.
If we all do our best to limit the spread and flatten the curve, we might get lucky. We might prevent an Italy-like situation (or worse) on this continent. In a few months it will be summer, and maybe this will be under control.
In the meantime, let’s all do our best to contain this. Maybe you feel safe, because you are only 30 years old. But no doubt you don’t want to infect people who are at risk. Even your younger friends might be at serious risk, if they have underlying health conditions. So, let’s all work together to get through this.
Finally, listen to the scientists and health professionals, not to any self-serving politicians. And if you have friends who somehow don’t think this is a real threat, please help them to understand that we are all in a life-or-death situation.
For more information, please refer to the CDC website.
Stay safe, stay healthy, Happy-No-Trails-For-Now!
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