Sunday, December 20, 2009

Have an H1N1-Free Holiday....

Forty percent of U.S. adults intend to change their holiday plans due to the risk of being exposed to the H1N1 flu virus this year, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by JohnsonDiversey, a leader in the commercial cleaning and sanitizing industry.

Another survey, this one by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that one in 10 Americans stopped shaking hands because of concerns about H1N1. An equal number stopped hugging and kissing.

Meanwhile, the pork and ham producers are doing everything possible to make sure everyone knows you can’t get swine flu from their meat products.

It’s beginning to look a lot like the H1N1 Holidays.

If you've got holiday events coming up, you might consider heeding the advice of the Columbia University epidemiology professor who recommends you “party cautiously.” That means keep things clean, be careful with finger food, forget the punch bowl and maybe avoid the mistletoe.

But other experts say a kiss or two on the cheek under the mistletoe actually might be safer than shaking hands. But what I want to know is: Do people actually put up mistletoe these days? I must not be going to the right parties.

Instead, I'm reading articles about how to have a H1N1-free holiday, such as the one that declared: Do not throw or attend a party if you have a fever, cough or other flu symptoms. Well, duh. This is news?

Just in case, according to the JohnsonDiversey survey, 23 percent of U.S. adults will require guests to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon arrival this holiday season. How do you do that graciously? “Great to see you, thanks for coming and now go wash your hands or use sanitizer before you do anything else at my party.”

Some people recommend not shaking hands at all because who knows what viruses they’ve touched? Should we bump elbows instead? One etiquette expert suggests saying something like: “Excuse me for not shaking hands, but it's great to meet you.” I suppose another option is to shake hands and say, “Nice to meet you, now I must go wash my hands.” Or you could whip out the bottle of hand sanitizer and use it immediately, making clear you suspect the person you just met is a flu carrier. This may diminish your chances of a continuing relationship, however.

Party planners are recommending that people place bottles of hand sanitizer and tissues in plain view to encourage people to use them. Just tell me where to find some that match my evergreen centerpieces and candles because there’s nothing that says Christmas like tissues and hand sanitizer.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of warnings about bowls at parties in the H1N1 era. Most people know it's far from sanitary to dip a used cup back into the punch bowl for a refill and while using a ladle may reduce the risk, the experts claim “bowls still offer a large surface area for germs to land on.” So do cars and trucks, but I won't go there. Needless to say, the experts don't recommend repeatedly sanitizing the punch bowl -- the aftertaste might not be too pleasant.

We’re also supposed to avoid putting things like candy, nuts, chips or anything else in a big open bowl that people will reach into and spread their germs around. One article recommended putting nuts in little pleated cups or votive candle holders. I’m going for the candle holders because they don’t match the sanitizer anyway. Other articles suggest putting out cheese cubes with toothpicks, or shot glasses of dips and salsas. Maybe there's a possibility for a book here – something like “Holiday H1N1-Free Hors D’Oeuvres.”

My favorite warning, though, concerns alcohol (and not the stuff in hand sanitizer): “Remember that water, not alcohol, will keep you healthy days after the Christmas party is over, so make sure to consume an equal amount of both.”

Ho, ho, ho and Happy H1N1-Free Holidays!

3 comments:

CLEANpHIRST said...

There are new hand sanitizers that kill 3 times the germs, work up to 30 minutes, and they are safer for kids than the ones that contain alcohol. This one is my favorite: http://www.cleanphirst.com/store/alcohol_free_foam_hand_sanitizer.asp

PatRemick said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I've been using so much hand sanitizer that it's got me worried that I'll have some reaction to that and it will be worse than H1N1!!!

PatRemick said...

Of course, I didn't realize that CLeanpHirst was a web site selling SAID nifty sanitizer...