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Achoo!  Cover That Sneeze! By Johanna Hicks

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Achoo!  Cover That Sneeze!

                I hope you aren’t getting tired of hearing about the flu and cold season.  It is real, and it is upon us!   As my husband knows, every time I see people cough or sneeze into their hands, I cringe.  What makes it even worse is when they open a door or touch something with the same hand that others will be touching.  That’s one way germs are spread!

Know the Numbers:

  • 90 (ninety) miles per hour – that’s fast for a car, but were you aware that a sneeze can travel that fast as it leaves your body?  That is a super-fast way to spread germs, so please cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sneeze into your sleeve.  If you use a tissue, toss it in the trash right away.  Don’t leave it sitting around where someone else has to handle it.
  • 1,000,000 (one million) – eeeewww!  Did you know that a sneeze can contain up to one million germs?  When you sneeze or cough, little germs go flying out of your body so try hard to catch them in a tissue or your sleeve and wash up afterward.
  • 20 (twenty) seconds – Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the “ABC song,” can get rid of germs.
  • 24 (twenty-four) hours – If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone to avoid spreading the flu to others.

Even if your hands look clean, they probably carry germs.  Germs are everywhere.  If you wash your hands really well with warm, soapy water, (and wash often) you can get rid of germs.  Adults ca be role models when it comes to good hand hygiene.  Children will watch and follow what you do.  Encourage your child to count slowly to 20, (or sing the ABC song), to help make handwashing fun and long enough.  Get a safe stepping stool so your child can reach the sink.  Hang a hand-washing reminder by the toilet.

Try This!

Here is an experiment you can do with your child:

1)      Mix vegetable oil with cinnamon in a small bowl.

2)      Let the child rub the cinnamon oil on hands.

3)      Wash hands together in four ways:

–          Cold water only

–          Cold water and soap for 10 seconds

–          Warm water and soap for 10 seconds

–          Warm water and soap for 20 seconds.

4)      Talk about the results.  What did it take to remove the cinnamon?  Cinnamon isn’t harmful, but you can see it if you don’t wash hands correctly.

Germs are not visible – you can’t see them or smell them – so you must wash hands properly.

No Way!

                Now, let’s think about another issue – popcorn.  Let’s say you are going to the movie theater to watch a movie with some friends.  Before you go into the actual theater, you and your friends decide to stop by the restroom.  When done, your friend skips the hand-washing and goes directly to the concession stand for popcorn, then offers to share a large order with you.  Hmmm, what do you do?  You might want to think carefully about that.  More than likely you wouldn’t get sick, but just thinking about where your friend’s hands have been  should give you a clue to not share!

                Foodborne illness is another matter for another column, but just keep in mind that you should always wash hands before handling food, and after using the bathroom, touching a pet, coughing or sneezing into hands, combing hair, blowing your nose, changing a diaper, handling trash, and anytime they are dirty.


We have coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, word searches, and other activity sheet at the Extension Office.  These are available to anyone.  If you need large quantities, let us know in advance and we’ll prepare a packet for you!  Call 903-885-3443 for more information.

Upcoming Events

  • Si, Yo Puedo Controlar Mi Diabetes:  this is a diabetes series targeted toward individuals with type 2 diabetes.  All classes will be taught in Spanish.  Classes will begin on Monday, January 22, and will be offered at 2 times – 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Other sessions are Mondays, January 29, February 5, 12, 19, 26.   Contact Angela Doddy, at Christus Trinity Clinic, 903-244-1424 for more information.  Classes will take place at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, 1200 W. Houston, Sulphur Springs (next door to the big cows!)
  • 4-H Sewing Fun Day:  4-H members are reminded to call our office at 903-885-3443 to sign up.  Make-and-take projects will be available at no cost.  Several sewing machines will be provided or participants may ring their own.  The date is Saturday, January 27, 10:00 a.m. at the Extension Office.  Bring a sack lunch, scissors, pins, and a tape measure.
  • Fresh Start to a Healthier You:  this is a nutrition series, which will include cooking demonstrations, recipes, and handouts.  Dates are Thursday, February 1 and 8, at the Early Childhood Learning Center, 8:30 a.m.  No cost.
  • Twogether in Texas Marriage Education workshop:  the first workshop for 2018 will take place on Saturday, February 10, 8:30 a.m., at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office.  The workshop is free, and engaged couples will receive a certificate to save $60 upon applying for a marriage license.  Morning snacks, lunch, and afternoon snacks will be provided.  Please call 903-885-3443 so adequate preparations can be made.
  • Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes:  this popular 5-lesson series will be held on Mondays and Thursdays, April 9, 11, 16, 19, and 23, at the Extension Office.  Cost is $25 to cover cost of materials and refreshments.  Please call 903-885-3443 to sign up.
  • Other opportunities are also available, so call my office if you would like to know more!


Closing Thought

There will be obstacles, there will be doubters.  There will be mistakes, but with hard work, there are no limits! – unknown

Johanna Hicks
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
1200-B W. Houston
P.O.Box 518
Sulphur springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 – phone
903-439-4909 – Fax
[email protected]

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Author: Savannah Everett

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