You’ve been looking forward to this trip for months. The kids are excited. You’ve even checked the pollen forecast, and you don’t anticipate any problems. The rental car looks perfect. You’ve reserved a four-wheel drive for this rugged adventure in the great outdoors. You get inside, take a deep breath, and start the car. Then it happens.
Your chest tightens and your head pounds. Something in this car is triggering your allergies. Between mold in the air-conditioning system and the formaldehyde in the leather seats, your perfect rental car seems custom designed to spike your symptoms.
Common allergens and irritants found inside the average car can make driving a challenge for people with allergies. Dust mites and mold can grow in cars, and animal allergen – tiny particles of an animal’s shed skin, urine, and saliva – may linger for years.
Awareness is key to travel by car: awareness of your own sensitivities, of the hazards you may encounter, and of the extra planning needed for a safe and pleasant trip.
Whether you’re driving your own car or a rental, take these steps to prepare:
- Turn on the car’s air conditioner or heater and roll down the windows for at least ten minutes before getting in. This will help remove dust mites and molds.
- Make sure the car’s exhaust and fuel systems are in top shape, and that there are no fluid leakages, such as transmission, antifreeze, or power brake fluids.
- Avoid exhaust fumes by driving in the early morning or late-night hours when there is less traffic. Also drive on less-traveled routes.
- Make sure the car has received detailed cleaning.
- To reduce your exposure to airborne allergy triggers, have your car’s cabin air filter changed if it has one, (most newer models have them). If not, consider running an air filter designed specifically for automobiles, which plugs into a car cigarette lighter socket, or wear a filter mask while driving.
More and more people suffer from allergies today than they ever have before, if you’d like more information on how to protect yourself, you can find this article and more on Allergy9.com