Infection prevention has been on many minds during this long flu season. Now that coronavirus is threatening to spread world wide, what can we do?
I’ve written a bit about coronavirus previously, if you want to check that first.
Many viruses and bacteria (“germs”) get access into our bodies from our eyes, nose, and mouth.
Studies show we touch these areas nearly 25 times each hour!
Be conscious of how often you touch your face, especially the “T” that makes up your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Every time you touch the T zone without first washing, you could be infecting yourself with any germ that happens to be on your hand.
Challenge friends and family to see who can last longest not touching the T zone without first washing hands. You might be surprised how hard this is!
Make it a game with friends and family to see who can go the longest without getting caught touching the T zone.
Keep sanitizer nearby for those times you have to touch your face. Sanitize before and after, then wash your hands with soap and water when you get a chance.
Stay Home When Sick
I know it’s hard to miss school and work, but when we go into public areas when sick, we will likely share our illness with others. Some of those others may be at risk of serious infection, even death.
I’ve known people who knowingly get on an airplane and stay in a hotel when they have influenza.
I’ve seen teens refuse to stay home from school despite a fever.
I’ve watched people cough into their hand, pick up (and put back) fresh fruits, and then continue shopping at the grocery store.
All of these behaviors significantly increase the risk to others. Some of those others may end up in the hospital, or even dead.
If you travel when sick, you won’t have a fun vacation.
If your child is sick, they won’t perform well in the big tournament.
If you get your whole team sick, no one will thank you.
Is it really worth leaving the house for any reason when you know you might cause significant harm to others?
Help yourself recover by staying home to rest and prevent spread of germs to others. If you can, keep enough food and medication at home to cover in case you’re unable to go out due to illness.
If you need to seek medical attention, please do, but use precautions described throughout this post to help limit the spread to others. If your symptoms can be managed at home, do not go to the clinic.
I know some schools and workplaces require a doctor’s note. I am strongly opposed to this for many reasons, including exposure, cost, and limiting resources for those who really need them. Unfortunately I cannot change their rules, and if a note is needed, I have to see a person to be able to document why they’re absent. Any school administrators or bosses reading this, please consider the implications of your requirements.
The use of face masks when sick has been common in some countries for quite a while and is picking up favor in the US.
Face masks may help limit the spread of germs. But they might also increase the risk due to inappropriate use. Tara Halle covers that nicely here.
When someone talks, coughs, or sneezes they may release tiny drops into the air that can infect others. A face mask may reduce the number of germs that a sick person puts into the surrounding air. A face mask also protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from splashes or sprays of body fluids.
Remember that the mask becomes a collector of germs. Do not touch it without proper handwashing!
How to use a face mask:
- Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
- Remove a mask from the box and check for any holes or defects.
- Get the mask into proper position:
- The stiff bendable part is the top. It should be squeezed to fit snugly over your nose.
- The colored side of the mask is usually the outside. The white side touches your face.
- Put on the mask using the ear loops, ties, or rubber band as per the type of mask. (If there are ties, start with the top tie, then do step 5.)
- Pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose. (If there are ties, you will need to tie the bottom tie after this step.)
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
- Wash your hands, since they may have been contaminated when applying your mask.
- Wear the mask without touching it. If you need to readjust it, be sure to clean your hands before and after touching it.
- Remove the mask if it becomes moist or soiled. Throw it away and wash your hands before and after touching it.
Cover your cough… even without a mask
If you need to cough or sneeze, act like a vampire and pull your cape over your face – cough or sneeze into your elbow.
The only time this isn’t recommended is when you’re going to be carrying around an infant. If their face will be in your elbow, you DO NOT want to do this. Cough or sneeze into your hand (or a tissue) then wash or sanitize your hands.
Washing hands with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent all infections.
For those specifically worried about coronavirus, there’s great news! Coronavirus is covered in an outer layer that is easily dissolved with regular soap. If you wash hands regularly, you can significantly decrease your risk of infection!
It is important to wash correctly. Most people don’t get every part of their hand washed well.
Practice washing front and back, between fingers and at the tips.
When we can prevent infection with an immunization, it is important to follow standard recommendations.
I’ve written about the importance of vaccines many times. I have an entire Pinterest Board devoted to vaccines that you can check out here. It includes my posts as well as many others so I won’t go into details here, other than to say VACCINATE!
If you want to help your kids understand the recent concern about Coronavirus, have them watch this short video on Brainpopl
And this is a great cartoon about coronavirus!
- Top Reasons to Follow the Recommended Vaccine Schedule
- All About Measles Vaccine
- Reasons to not get the flu vaccine
- Help! I’m sick and have a baby at home (appropriate for any infection control within the home)