Tuesday, November 13, 2012

5 Easy Ways to Flush the Flu


by Heather Pitts

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that outpatient visits for influenza-like illness were below average. However, that does not mean germs have stopped crawling in the residence halls!

Here are five basic hygiene practices that will help you stay flu-free and test-ready to finish the semester strong:

Don't let the flu happen to YOU!
1.    Wash your hands frequently and always before you leave the bathroom.

CDC researchers have found that germs can live on doorknobs for more than two hours, and it takes warm water, soap and 20 seconds of scrubbing to rid your hands of cold and flu germs.

Ninety-five percent of people claim to wash their hands in public restrooms, yet only 67 percent of people actually wash their hands according to the American Society of Microbiology’s Clean Hands Campaign.
           
2.    Work your elbows!

Everyone uses their hands, especially to press buttons in elevators, and you don’t know what else people are doing with their hands throughout the day. An easy way to avoid germs is to use your elbow to press buttons in the elevator – talk about a great conversation starter! Or, if you are too embarrassed, try getting someone else in the elevator to press buttons for you.

3.    Reconsider how you pick your potty.

WebMD reported that most people gravitate towards the middle stalls in a public restroom, and those tend to have the most germs as a result. More people have put their hands on the doors, locks, flushers, toilet paper, etc. of those stalls. Studies show that the first stall is usually the least trafficked and cleanest. 


4.    Wash your hands before you brush your teeth and dispose your toothbrush after you have been sick.

Germs are the greatest danger to you when in contact with your mouth, nose and eyes. To avoid transferring bacteria from your hands directly to your mouth you should wash them before brushing. Likewise, your toothbrush contains germs from the plaque, saliva and oral debris removed from your mouth. It is best to simply throw out a toothbrush with your past illness on it once you are healthy.  

5.    Carry your own pens and pencils.

Sharing pens and pencils is a good way to spread cold and flu germs amongst your friends, particularly during flu season.  They are an easy source of cross-contamination, where bacteria are transferred from one item to another.

Heather Pitts is a third-year student majoring in photojournalism and anthropology. Currently, Pitts is in her second year as a Resident Assistant in Creswell Hall. 


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