Cold and Flu Etiquette by Diane Gottsman Etiquette Expert and Modern Manners Authority
Flu Etiquette Dos and Don’ts
The great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post reveals how to stay healthy in germy situations.
By Erinn Connor
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When flu season arrives, you usually notice a lot of coughing, sneezing, and sniffling in your office, at your child’s school, or at the mall. That means a greater likelihood of getting sneezed on while in line at the post office or your child catching the flu from other kids in the classroom.
Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 18th edition discusses how to deal with sick people in public, making sure your kids stay as germ-free as possible, and common flu misconceptions.
How do you deal with people around you who are obviously sick and not being polite about it in public or at work?
There’s definitely room for improvement in this category. There’s everything from being stuck next to someone on a plane who doesn’t cover their mouth when they cough to kids going to school when they’re sick and spreading germs around to a co-worker who comes in feeling miserable and potentially infects the whole team.
RELATED: How To Never Get Sick At Work
If it’s someone you know, it’s best to say, with care and concern in your voice, something like: “You don’t look so hot, this could be the flu. You should probably go home or see a doctor.” That’s an okay thing to do. Same thing if I’m going out with friends someplace and someone shows up sick. No one really likes that. They’ll understand you’re not doing it to be rude, but rather you just want them to take care of themselves and the people they’re around.
It can be trickier with strangers. If you’re stuck next to someone in a line or a waiting room and you can’t remove yourself from the situation, it’s polite to ask if they would please mind covering their cough. Keep it in a neutral tone and short and sweet. You can also help make the situation easier by traveling with a little pocket tissue and hand sanitizer and offering it to the person. That can help them be a little more mindful of where they’re coughing and sneezing.
What are the best cold and flu etiquette tips for parents to pass along to their kids?
It’s best to teach them how to cover up their cough or sneeze. One trick in making sure they bring their elbow up towards their mouth is to tell them to act like Dracula drawing up his cape. It makes it fun, while also modeling behavior you want them to have.
When you talk about hand washing, tell younger kids to sing the ABCs while they’re doing it. It makes sure they’re getting rid of most of the germs.
It’s also important for parents to keep their kids home if they’re sick. Flu especially is so contagious. If there’s a child over your house for a playdate and they look like they’re sick, it’s best for them and your own child if they’re picked up by a parent.
What are some common misconceptions about colds and the flu?
Many people don’t realize the . A survey done by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases revealed that 41 percent of people think the flu is only contagious after symptoms start.
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