In 2020 and 2019, a few queries remained at the top of the safety search results. We’ll help answer some of these ongoing, less-complex questions.
- "Is it safe to eat raw eggs?” When you eat raw eggs, you face a low risk of salmonella poisoning; the USDA recommends pasteurized eggs.2
- "Is it safe to shower during a thunderstorm?” The CDC recommends avoiding showers during thunderstorms because lightning can travel through plumbing.3
- "Is it safe to drink tap water?” Drinking tap water safely depends on the source and filtration used.4 If you’re traveling or questioning a local area’s supply, consult the CDC’s travel destinations list. When in doubt, drink bottled water.
- "Is it safe to take melatonin?” Melatonin is a relatively safe and natural hormone taken for sleep aid and relaxation, but you should be aware of melatonin’s interactions with medications, allergies, pregnancy, children, and more.5
Based on this year’s most-Googled safety search results, COVID-19 seems to dominate Americans' safety concerns, but other factors may also be at play.
During the pandemic, traveling brings up many different safety questions, but some questions may relate to non-COVID-19 safety concerns.
For example, “Is it safe to travel to Egypt?” may be related to those who are already willing to travel to Egypt but worry about COVID-19 contamination. But it’s also likely that travelers were concerned by terrorist attacks on tourists in the Sinai Peninsula, which resulted in four deaths and 18 wounded as of May 2019.6
Food and drink took up a smaller portion of the searches, but questions like "Is it safe to order takeout?” or “Is it safe to eat fast food?” have more to do with COVID-19 than they do with things like purchasing safety or consumption safety (unlike “Is it safe to eat 2-year-old frozen meat?”). We recommend following the CDC’s guidelines for relevant COVID-19 food safety information.
While some ambiguity remains about which questions directly relate to COVID-19, there is no denying that the novel coronavirus impacted our daily lives.
Year-to-year, the top safety categories saw shifts related to COVID-19’s impact:
- Concern for travel safety increased in 2020 by 15% from 2019.
- Injury-related concerns dropped by 35%.
- Tech- and crime-related safety searches dropped to virtually nothing compared to the other concerns of 2020.
Somewhat surprisingly, questions surrounding masks, sanitizer, cleaning, or other COVID-19 related safety precautions were absent from the list.
Georgia, more than any other state, searched the most for the top 25 safety questions. Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Vermont also ranked higher than the rest of the US in safety-related search volume.