I’ve mentioned before that I’m a full-time working mom, but I don’t know that I’ve ever really talked about what it is that I do… I have been a registered nurse for thirteen years, and currently, I manage an infection prevention and control program for an acute care hospital. Because so much of what I do focuses on prevention of illness and infection, I thought it fitting to share some tips with you on preventing illness this season.
Wash Your Hands
I’ve said this phrase more than I care to count in the past (almost) three years, but it’s a mantra to live by. Study after study shows that the number one way to prevent illness is to wash your hands. Think about how many things your hands touch throughout the course of a day and then how many times you touch your face, your lips, your eyes… it’s pretty easy to understand how we get sick. Luckily, it’s easy to clean your hands on the go these days with the vast market of alcohol-based hand gels and sanitizing wipes that are available. When all else fails, good old soap and water still hold up to the task as well. There’s no excuse to not wash!
With flu season upon us, the time to get your flu shot (or other form of vaccination) is now, if you haven’t done so already. Complications from the flu continue to cause nearly 200,000 people to be hospitalized annually and anywhere from 3,000 – 49,000 deaths. While the CDC recommends flu vaccination for any person 6 months of age or older, those at particular high risk of complications from flu are: the very young and/or very old, those with chronic illnesses, immunosuppressed persons, and pregnant mothers. Now I understand that vaccination is a personal choice and many people, for many reasons, choose to not go this route… so don’t stone me over this. My personal opinion is that vaccination is a great advancement of medicine – if you don’t believe me, read up a bit on the history of disease in a pre-vaccine era. It’s a scary reminder of why our ancestors’ life spans weren’t very long.
Cover Your Cough
You would think that, as adults, we’d know better than to cough or sneeze in someone’s face… but oh no, we don’t. We’re so bad at this, that the CDC has created signage for healthcare facilities to post in waiting rooms to remind us to do the right thing and cover our coughs. When you cough or sneeze, those droplets can carry about three to six feet in the air before dropping to the ground, putting everyone within arm’s length at risk of falling prey to your illness. (Ever had your child sneeze into your eye and then develop a raging case of pinkeye?? Yeah, me neither…) So just do it people: cough into your elbow or into a tissue and then wash those hands!
Finally, it’s so important to keep your home clean and disinfected, especially when illness strikes. Some bacteria and viruses are capable of surviving on surfaces for hours or even days, so it’s essential to kill those bad boys with a good surface disinfectant. Read your labels for your household products: most will have a claim to kill certain bacteria or viruses and products come in various formulations and scents so surely there’s one to please you. Personally, I’m a bleach girl, but as long as it kills the germs, I’m not picky.
So there you go, friends. A few simple reminders of good habits to build into your daily routine to keep your home healthy and happy this fall season. Stay well!!