PMH HealthBeat

Stay healthy during Flu Season

Although we have been blessed with some unseasonably warm days this year, winter has definitely arrived. And during the cold weather season, it’s common to see many runny noses, coughs, sore throats and respiratory infections such as the flu.

How many of us have used our scarf or gloves to wipe our nose or cover a sneeze/cough when a tissue wasn’t available? What did we touch afterwards with a runny nose-contaminated glove – 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’? This is called cross-contamination.

Lori 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’t been cleaned – 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.

Most germs will survive for two or three days on inanimate objects – some longer. They don’t have to look soiled or smell bad to be loaded with germs either.

Here are some tips to stay healthy this winter:

Clean your hands often. It’s the most important way to prevent the spread of infections.

Carry tissues and hand sanitizer with you at all times.

Keep your hands away from your face, especially your mouth, nose and eyes.

Take 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’s easier to clean your hands than to wash gloves.

When taking off your gloves, carefully loosen them at the fingertips, and pull them off with your opposite hand. Don’t use your teeth or mouth.

Don’t stuff dirty or wet gloves and scarves in your pocket. They need to dry thoroughly to kill the germs.
Wash your gloves and scarves often—preferably once per week or when soiled.

Get a flu shot every year.

Avoid people who are sick with a respiratory or stomach virus. Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your gloves or scarf.

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