A pomegranate seed on my kitchen window sill. Yet another example of how my family learns life lessons in our own, strange ways. This is the story of how a tiny, pink seed taught my kids the importance of covering your sneeze.
My kids and I were enjoying pomegranates one Saturday afternoon. We were just hanging out, having a healthy snack together. There was certainly no “prevent the spread of infection” teachable moment scheduled for that particular day. That was about to change.
One of us suddenly sneezed and, well, the face-in-the-elbow technique didn’t exactly happen. A pomegranate seed took flight across our kitchen as if powered by jet fuel. We all watched its journey and laughed as it made a crash landing on the window sill above the sink. Nothing remarkable, right? Some food travelled as part of a sneeze – what’s the big deal, right? Get this…
The thing is, the window sill is about 7 feet away from where the sneeze happened! We counted the floor tiles; each tile is 12 inches across. The seed flew over 5 of them plus the 24-inch deep counter top…that’s a 7-foot range for that sneeze! I had heard that the flu virus, for instance, could travel by way of sneezes up to 6 feet but had never actually seen a sneeze travel that far! WOW!
That realization led to a family chat about a couple of things. We talked about the fact that viruses and bacteria may well have accompanied that seed on its fantastic voyage and that illnesses can easily be shared that way. We also discussed how we are seldom 7 feet away from anyone when we’re in the same room with others and that almost every interaction we have is well within pomegranate seed range. That makes it pretty easy to share germs with our friends, doesn’t it?
My kids and I vowed, in that moment, to remind and encourage everyone to cover their sneezes (and coughs)…and not with their hands, but their elbows! As a card-carrying public health nurse though, since we’re talking about preventing the spread of infection, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that proper cleaning practices, hand-washing, healthy eating, regular exercise, lots of sleep and the flu shot are important germ-fighters too.
‘Tis the sneezin’! Welcome to it!
So, how does your family prevent the spread?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)