With influenza season arriving in Oklahoma this month, Lauri Smithee, chief of the Acute Disease Service at the Oklahoma Health Department, offers specific instructions for avoiding colds, germs and infectious diseases. Many of which involve basic hygiene.
“If you get sick, it puts you out of commission and that’s no fun, especially if you are a caregiver of children or other family members. There are important steps we all should take,” Smithee said.
- Wash your hands – You’ve heard this before, but washing hands before eating, after visiting the restroom, after changing diapers, after blowing your nose — is the best way to avoid illness .
- Carry hand sanitizers – Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, particularly the ones that are not antibacterial, are good substitutes for hand washing until you get home or to a location where you can wash your hands.
- Watch what you touch – Try to avoid touching things like bathroom door handles (use a towel), escalator rails, elevator buttons (use your knuckle) and pens at checkout counters (carry your own).
- Stay home – When you start to feel bad, stay home. Do not go to work, church or school, and do not visit a nursing home or hospital. This is the time you are most contagious, especially if you have a fever.
- Keep it to yourself – Sneeze into your elbow, not your hand ; if you cough or sneeze into your hand, wash your hands immediately and throw used tissue into the trash.
- Stay alert when traveling – Get all recommended traveler’s immunizations in plenty of time for trip abroad in 2008; don’t drink untreated water; if you become ill when you return home, tell your doctor where you’ve been.
– Jim Killackey, medical writer