Cold and Flu Etiquette

Cold and Flu Etiquette

The cold and flu season is upon us and in full bloom.  Everywhere we turn someone is sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose and spreading contagious germs.  The media has already reported the onset of the flu outbreak and communicating that many will be infected this year. 

As we begin 2013, make good health one of your priorities and show respect toward others by following these cold and flu etiquette guidelines.

  1. In public settings, use hand sanitizers often.  Just as many of you will not leave home without your phone, apply the same principle to hand sanitizers or baby wipes. Keep small containers in your car, purse, backpack or on your keychain.
  2. Handshaking is the standard greeting in America. This proper gesture can become awkward when you are experiencing cold symptoms or notice someone sneezing and coughing before the greeting.  When faced with this situation, politely excuse yourself from shaking hands by informing the person that you are or have been sick. Otherwise, proceed with the handshake, then discretely use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands as soon as possible.
  3. Keep an abundance of tissues handy.  Use tissues whenever possible, even when coughing. Properly dispose of the dirty tissue immediately and never use it twice.
  4. Don’t spit on the ground or out of a car window.  Use tissue or go to the restroom.
  5. Seriously consider getting a flu shot.  The flu will be rampant this year and health administrators highly recommend the flu vaccine as an effective way to guard against getting andspreading the flu
  6. Dining Out – If you must dine out while being subjected to a cold, show regards toward others around you.  Wash your hands upon arrival. Never blow your nose in the cloth napkins or at the table (turning your head is also not acceptable).  Keep tissues readily available just in case you unavoidably sneeze.  If you must use your cloth napkin to wipe your nose, ask for another one and take the used one away with you.  Furthermore, do not leave your used tissue on the table for the wait staff to dispose of.
  7. When hosting a party during the cold and flu season, show consideration when guests are unable to attend as the result of. Encourage family and friends to stay home if they are feeling a “little under the weather.” 
    After greeting guests, make sure you wash your hands before you handle or serve food.  Try to serve foods in individual serving portions versus large bowls.  Here are a few suggestions:  desserts in wine glasses, individual pre-plated hors d’oeuvres servings, cheese and meat kabobs, or bite-sized foods such as mini quiches. 

    Being sick is not the ideal way to bring in the New Year.  By following these guidelines, you can help contain the spread of germs.  Do your part to keep yourself and others healthy.  Stay at home when you are sick.  Drink plenty of fluids.  Eat soup. Bundle up before going out in the cold and adhere to “Ms. Tina’s” cold and flu etiquette recommendations.  

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.