By Dr. David Butler-Jones MD, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
The holiday season is upon us, and this means attending and hosting holiday parties with family and friends. The holiday season is the perfect time for germs and illnesses like the H1N1 flu to spread. In order to stay healthy this holiday season it’s important to keep some general health tips in mind.
SHAKE, SHARE, WASH
Shaking hands and sharing a hug and kiss with family and friends is a common practice around the holidays. Obviously, this is not going change – but be mindful of how germs and illnesses like the flu spread. Since you’ll be shaking hands and hugging frequently, try to wash your hands regularly throughout the evening and avoid touching your face.
NO DOUBLE DIPPING!
Double dipping is when you dip something into a sauce (such as a potato chip or carrot stick into dip), take a bite from it and then dip it again. Double dipping is a quick way to spread infectious disease, such as H1N1, so avoid it. Also avoid sharing utensils with another person if they’ve been near your mouth and try to ensure that buffet tables are out of reach from children’s hands.
BE AN ORGANIZED AND GERM-CONSCIOUS HOST
If you’re hosting guests over the holidays, make it easy for them to enjoy themselves and stay healthy by preparing your home. Have plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, liquid soap (avoid bar soap) and disposable paper towels available for guests to wash their hands. A little preparation on your part can go a long way to keeping your family and friends healthy during the holidays, and at any time of year.
DON’T SHARE GLASSES
While socializing with family and friends, remember to avoid sharing glasses because when you share glasses, you also share germs. Try using items that distinguish glasses, such as drink charms, to make sure you can easily identify which glass is yours.
GET THE H1N1 FLU VACCINE AND THE SEASONAL FLU VACCINE
Getting the H1N1 flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from both the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu viruses. Protecting yourself by getting the vaccines might be the easiest way to enjoy the holiday season without worrying about catching or spreading the flu.
For more information about the H1N1 flu virus please visit www.fightflu.ca or call 1-800 O-CANADA.
Dr. David Butler-Jones is Canada's first Chief Public Health Officer and is head of the Public Health Agency of Canada.