Cough etiquette: Preventing the spread of illness
By: Krista Beiermann
The cold and flu season has always presented a challenge in preventing the spread of germs. And now with the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, practicing proper cough etiquette is more important than ever in containing the spread of this contagious virus.
A cough or sneeze that goes uncovered can easily spray small liquid droplets into the air up to 6 feet in front of you. Coughing or sneezing into your hands isn’t much better, since germs can be transferred from surface to surface every time you touch something new.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Here are proper cough etiquette steps to follow.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow to cough into. Tip: Avoid coughing into your hands or the open air.
- Discard used tissues in the trash right away. Tip: Carry an extra supply of clean tissues with you.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t close by, you can clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Tip: It should contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose or ears after a cough or sneeze. Tip: Wash your hands multiple times each day. And, if you feel ill, stay home and away from others.
Krista Beiermann is a risk manager in the quality department at Columbus Community Hospital.