Wash your hands to keep germs away

Someone (my little sister) has given me a summer cold. It is accompanied by fever, cough, sinus pain and fatigue. Though I would like to hold her accountable for transmission, there is a long line of unwashed hands touching common everyday items that are truly responsible.

Public Service Announcements about hand washing crop up in the fall and winter months. This is obviously not enough, as I have ignored all of them and am now sick. So I will take it upon myself to remind the Newton community that frequent hand washing is of the utmost importance.

Hands should be washed for 20 seconds. This is about the length of time it takes to sing “The Happy Birthday Song” twice or the “ABC Song” once. I have heard that there is a debate over public bathroom use. I think it’s only right that Happy Birthday singers use bathrooms on the left, as we ABC singers are the superior washers. We will have to replace the little gendered signs with a cartoonish cake with candles and balloon-letter ABCs.

Understandably, in a nature-loving community such as ours, there is not always access to hand-soap, running water, and a clean towel. Proudly holding and photographing your big catch or helping out at the little league game all warrant the use of alcohol-based sanitizing wipes or gels.

Kids are great, but you might be safer kissing your mighty, mighty bass than sharing high fives with little leaguers before eating your grilled hotdog.

Most people are pretty good about washing or gelling before eating. The importance of cleaning frequently handled objects is often forgotten, though. Fridge door handles, faucet handles, kitchen counter tops, toys, phones, and TV remotes should all be frequently disinfected.

Yes, I’m speaking to you, disillusioned teenager and young millennial. That phone you clutch to your face is a harbor for bacteria. We all know you tweet from the bathroom anyways.

Now that I have told you all how to avoid the summer cold, I have a few tips on how to ease your pain if you have already contracted it. One of the most important factors is hydration. Though many Americans consider soda and other soft drink products a major food group, that will not help you hydrate. Water, both hot as tea and cold with ice, will help alleviate your congestion and decrease the risk of dehydration during a fever.

Though often overlooked, rest will get you back into the pool and sun faster than pushing through the symptoms. There’s a lot of pressure to enjoy the beautiful summer months before the other nine cold months start again. You might initially say heck to your runny nose and get outside, but coming from someone who did that, your cold will worsen with a vengeance.

The last and maybe most personal piece of advice I have for you this warm, common cold season is do not double dose on cough medicine. Some very potent ingredients are common across medication types and forms. Though it may take a substantial amount to make you see pink elephants on parade, even a little bit more than suggested can make the world a very exciting place. Learn from the mistakes of others and read labels for directions and active ingredients.

A little soap and water goes a long way to prevent illness. By no means am I the authority on the topic, so check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information on the common cold.

Stay healthy, Newton!