Stay healthy during Flu Season\r\n\r\nAlthough we have been blessed with some unseasonably warm days this year, winter has definitely arrived. And during the cold weather season, it\u2019s common to see many runny noses, coughs, sore throats and respiratory infections such as the flu. \r\n\r\nHow many of us have used our scarf or gloves to wipe our nose or cover a sneeze\/cough when a tissue wasn\u2019t available? What did we touch afterwards with a runny nose-contaminated glove \u2013 a steering wheel, doorknob, stair railing or seat? Have you ever loaned a scarf or gloves to your child or hung your clothing up in the office next to that of your co-workers\u2019? This is called cross-contamination.\r\n\r\nLori Riggsby, Infection Control Nurse at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital, reminds us of the importance of washing our gloves and scarves on a regular basis, preferably once per week or when soiled. It stands to reason that gloves and scarves are just as germy as other fabrics that haven\u2019t been cleaned \u2013 maybe more so because they are less likely to be cleaned on a routine basis. Leather and suede gloves would most likely need to be dry cleaned, and knit gloves would probably not fare too well in the washing machine. But think about how germy they are could be.\r\n\r\nMost germs will survive for two or three days on inanimate objects \u2013 some longer. They don\u2019t have to look soiled or smell bad to be loaded with germs either.\r\n\r\nHere are some tips to stay healthy this winter: \r\n\r\nClean your hands often. It\u2019s the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. \r\n\r\nCarry tissues and hand sanitizer with you at all times. \r\n\r\nKeep your hands away from your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.\r\n\r\nTake off your gloves when using or touching objects that other people use or touch. This includes the ATM, shopping carts and door knobs. Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) immediately after coming into contact with those items. It\u2019s easier to clean your hands than to wash gloves. \r\n\r\nWhen taking off your gloves, carefully loosen them at the fingertips, and pull them off with your opposite hand. Don\u2019t use your teeth or mouth. \r\n\r\nDon\u2019t stuff dirty or wet gloves and scarves in your pocket. They need to dry thoroughly to kill the germs. \r\nWash your gloves and scarves often\u2014preferably once per week or when soiled. \r\n\r\nGet a flu shot every year. \r\n\r\nAvoid people who are sick with a respiratory or stomach virus. Stay home from work or school if you are sick.\r\n \r\nCough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your gloves or scarf.