Spread joy, not germs this holiday season

Donna Krug
K-State Extension
Hays Daily News

We call the holidays the season of giving, and unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t just mean gifts of gratitude. Along with toys, technology and gifts of food, we occasionally send our loved ones’ home with something no one wants – viruses that cause flu or this year COVID-19.

Some of the spread of germs is related to increased personal contact with other people. This is not a good time to relax the habits of good hygiene. A little extra effort goes a long way to stopping the spread of illnesses this time of year. A little hand hygiene, cough coverage and common sense will go a long way to keeping your family healthy and happy through the holidays.

It seems easy enough – wash your hands often. But in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes those good habits are put aside. All it takes is someone with dirty hands to reach into the candy bowl and leave a virus behind.

It’s important to wash your hands at every step in the food preparation process. Whenever you touch your face or hair, or after sneezing or coughing into your hand you will want to wash again . Reminding children to wash up after they have been playing outside, or with the family pet is another good reminder.

The correct way to wash hands is to wet them with warm water and lather the soap; a process that should take 20 seconds. Make sure you wash the cuticle area and around jewelry especially well before rinsing. Keep a clean hand towel near every sink or consider switching to paper towels that can be disposed of. Keep hand sanitizers handy for those extra times when soap and water are not available.

Earlier this year I enlisted the help of students at TLC Discoveries after school program to create a video demonstrating efficient and thorough hand washing. There is a cute song at the end of the video that little ones can sing while they are lathering the soap on their hands. Visit https://spark.adobe.com/video/rPZOMzD0vteAX to watch the short video.

Other things you can do to avoid becoming ill during the holidays include getting plenty of rest and eating right. It’s a great time to increase the number of fruits and vegetables on your plate. Also, make time in your day for some quiet time to reflect and relax. Keeping the stress level down will help promote health. Limit visits with people who have a compromised immune system, especially if you have any symptoms of illness.

Stay well and safe this holiday season!

Donna Krug is the District Director and Family & Consumer Science Agent for K-State Research and Extension. You may contact her at: (620)793-1910 or dkrug@ksu.edu K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.