Saturday, 11 January 2014

Under the Weather

One of the unpleasant challenges faced by schools every winter is coping with cold and flu season. Anytime large groups of people are brought together in close proximity for extended periods of time there is a risk that some members of the group will get sick and pass on their illnesses to others. It has always been important for staff and students to take precautions to keep themselves healthy and to defend against infections. With the flu back in the headlines, taking precautions is more important than ever.

The American based Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  offers excellent information and resources for persons looking to protect themselves from colds and flu. Key pieces of advice at their site include:
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

The decision to stay home seems to be the hardest call to make. Missing work, school or other activities is never convenient, and sick days always seem to come at the absolute worst times. The website offers an excellent checklist of conditions that if present, should lead to someone staying home. These include: diarrhea, vomiting, wet coughs producing mucous or phlegm, thick yellow nasal discharge and significant fever lasting more than 24 hours. Other conditions that may require someone to stay at home include the flu, ringworm, impetigo, pinkeye, head lice or ringworm. Some of these are more unpleasant than others, but all of them require prompt attention in order to effect a quick return to health and to prevent spreading the condition.

No one likes to be sick, but working through an illness can make a person tough to be around. While missing a day may seem difficult or inconvenient, a well placed day away could be just the ticket to a speedy recovery. It may be easier to say than do, but it remains important to take the appropriate measures and to take the longer view when dealing with one's health. So, whether working at staying healthy or at getting well, be sure to be kind to yourself this season.

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