- By Pam Cottrel
Those hand sanitizer dispensers seem to be popping up everywhere and I’m glad to see them. The intensity of this flu season has me nervous and I want to do all I can to avoid it.
I asked a friend who works in the health industry what we should do and she referred me to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sounds serious, eh?
The CDC has published a list of three things we can do to fight the flu. They’re the experts so it’s well worth reading.
I got the flu shot as they recommended but they also recommend taking “everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of germs.”
So how do I do that?
I asked Emma Smales, public information officer at the Clark County Combined Health District. Avoid close contact, she told me. If you are sick, stay home long enough to no longer be contagious. If you’re not sick, avoid those who are.
Seems to me that keeping myself healthy helps to keep others healthy, too.
I heard about a school recently that told its students to not hug or shake hands. They recommended “waving” and, well, that makes sense. I’ll be waving until flu season is over.
Wash your hands frequently, she said.
I try, I really do. I do well with this at home but sometimes I just cannot bear to go into some public restrooms during flu season. Years ago I learned to not touch to the door handle to exit the restroom. I was told to use a tissue to touch the door handle to exit and then toss the tissue. I hope that helps.
Smales suggests washing your hands long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. I figured she meant silently, but she told me singing so someone can hear you can also be a teaching moment between coworkers. Explain that you’re not crazy and you want to remind yourself to keep that soapy water on the hands long enough to wash away those germs.
Our daughter buys fun soaps for her kiddos to encourage hand washing. Who can resist that purple foaming hand soap? I pass on the grown up soap when I’m at her house.
Although hand washing is best, you can use a hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands, according to Smales.
There are dispensers mounted on the wall by doors in many public places. Use them. Some stores have a bottle with a pump dispenser sitting on the counter next to the registers. I’d like to thank them for that public service.
However, is it too much to ask for a hand sanitizer that is set up like a shower at the beach? After I’m in a coughing, sneezing crowd I want to shower in hand sanitizer at the exit.
I’ve also given pocket hand sanitizers to the family. There are some fun scents for the kids like bubblegum or cotton candy with dispensers that clip onto back packs. I’ve even found some nice hand sanitizers for my husband that remind me of his aftershave. That’s good because I’m still going to hold hands with him. After all, next week is Valentine’s Day, folks.
Cover your cough, I’ve been told. And I’m learning how to cough into my elbow, as instructed by our granddaughters, who have had this concept taught at schools for years. However this is a new trick for me and I’m no pup. My arms seem too long. I end up coughing above my elbow on my left arm because I’m right handed. Is that OK? Would yoga help with my flexibility?
My aunt tells me that they’re doing elbow bumps at her church instead of hugging or shaking hands. And I’m worried if this is a good idea if they are coughing into their elbows. What do you think?
Avoiding touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth is on more than one list of healthy tips. Some people also sanitize frequently touched surfaces like door knobs and stair rails.
Smales also told me it truly is not too late to get the flu shot. According to her, most of those being admitted to the hospital for the flu didn’t get vaccinated. Having the flu shot can also reduce the symptoms if you get the flu, she added. The flu shot is still readily available.
“Good healthy habits — getting sleep, staying physically active, managing stress and staying hydrated — keep your immune system strong,” Smales said.
Bottom line is do all you can to be healthier and stronger to fight the flu bug. Stay healthy, my friends.