A winter wardrobe warning

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With an increase in influenza and the vast array of respiratory and stomach bugs circulating this time of year, it's important to protect against germs. Theresa Loechner, RN, GBS, with Infection Prevention at Parkview Wabash Hospital, shares some of her favorite tips from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Winter is here and with it, the runny noses, coughs, sore throats and respiratory infections like the flu. Be honest: Have you ever used your scarf or gloves to wipe your nose or cover a sneeze/cough? Or maybe you avoided washing your hands because of dry or cracked winter skin.

Consider what happens next. You'll probably use that runny nose-contaminated glove to clutch a steering wheel, doorknob, transit railing or seat, spreading germs. You might even take the glove off using your teeth, which puts the germs right into your mouth. Perhaps you'll hang your contaminated scarf in the office coat closet or lend it to a chilled child or place unwashed hands into your gloves. All of these scenarios lead to cross contamination.

As important as it is to wash your hands regularly, and after germy encounters especially, it’s just as important to wash gloves and scarves. Most germs will survive for 2-3 days on inanimate objects, if not longer. Items don’t need to be discolored or smell bad to be loaded with germs. Leather and suede gloves would most likely need to be dry cleaned, and knit gloves will need special care, so be sure to wash them accordingly.

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Prevention and parents

Next week is also National Handwashing Awareness Week. The American Cleaning Institute shares these 5 tips for parents looking to set an example and teach kids the importance of proper hygiene to prevent sickness, spreading illness and missing school.

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