Is School Making You Sick?

Following these easy steps can help you stay healthy and safe while at school


Breanna Harry washes her hands while singing "Happy Birthday." (Tatiana Ramirez/The Chaparral)

by Karen Mitchell
Student Contributer

Every day you come in contact with millions of disease causing germs and viruses right here on campus. What is supposed to be done to keep those microbes from making you sick? The solution is simpler than you might think.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin have come up with a clever pneumonic devise to help you remember what you need to do to combat the microbes. Their program is W.A.S.H. U.P. They consider this your best defense against airborne illnesses and those spread by contact with frequently used surfaces.

The W stands for Wash your hands!
Plain soap and water are you best defense. Wash your hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds. The Mayo Clinic’s website suggests washing for the amount of time it takes to sings “Happy Birthday” twice. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the next best thing. Make sure to rub your hands until all the liquid has dried before resuming your activities.

A is for Avoid people who are ill!
That sounds simple but it isn’t. So many surfaces you touch each day, such as keyboards, door knobs, and desktops, have been handled by many other people. You don’t actually have to come in contact with them to pick up their germs. Their hands leave germs behind on the surfaces they touch, germs that can live on surfaces from 24 to 48 hours. Marcella Strong, a local LVN working for Lindora Clinic, suggests carrying a pocket-sized pack of sanitary wipes to clean surfaces before you use them. Remember to clean those same surfaces after using them if you are ill. Germs are not what you want to share with your fellow students.

S is for Sneeze and Cough into a tissue!
Tissues will keep your own germs contained but remember to dispose of dirty tissues rather than leaving them behind.

H is for Hands away!
Your mouth, nose, and eyes provide a direct route for germs to enter your body, so don’t touch them. Mrs. Strong advises to “always clean your hands before touching your face, ALWAYS.”

U is for Unwind!
Stress makes you vulnerable to illness. Go for a walk in the fresh air, eat healthy, nutritious foods, and get plenty of rest.

P is for Prevent the flu!
Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That was true then and even more so now. Make sure to get a flu shot; and while you’re at it, check to see if all your inoculations are up to date.

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