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  • Writer's pictureRoy W Digital Manager

Help Stop the Spread of Germs

Coughing & Sneezing Etiquette

When thinking about cough & sneeze etiquette, we typically think about infection control measures in healthcare settings, such as emergency departments, doctor’s offices, and clinics. However, we should all practise good coughing and sneezing etiquette at all times, including at home or anywhere we go.

Help Stop the spread of germs
Handkerchiefs are not the best way to handle coughing and sneezing!

The Hanky

Historically, the handkerchief or "hanky" was the charming & sometimes stylish companion for anyone that needed to wrangle a sneeze or blow a nose. Handkerchiefs may still have a place in society, but if you are suffering from a cold or the flu, then tissues are a better option.

When blowing your nose, you are blowing nasal secretions into the tissue that can contain the virus, which is causing your illness. Throwing out the used tissue without reusing it, reduces the risk of spreading the virus. Alternatively, by using a handkerchief and reusing it, you are increasing the chance of spreading the virus to those around you. As the handkerchief gets moist from multiple uses, it can also have a build-up of nasal secretions. Any virus in the nasal secretions will undoubtedly be spread to doorknobs, elevator buttons, escalators and anything or anyone you touch. Help reduce the risk by using tissues over handkerchiefs when feeling under the weather.

Coughing & Sneezing

Many people's natural reaction to an upcoming sneeze or cough is to cover their face with their hands. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes that contribute to the spread of viruses.

How can I make a difference?

  1. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze

  2. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not your hands

  3. Put your used tissues in the trash

  4. Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub

One of the best ways to avoid spreading viruses is by staying home when you are sick. Staying at home while being unhealthy limits the number of people you become in contact with. It's pretty easy to say by limiting the number of people you interact with; you decrease the odds of spreading viruses. This is especially true for family caregivers, nurses or other healthcare workers. If you are sick, take the day off and ask for help if need be.

If you need to head out while being sick, consider taking these four steps

  1. Wearing a mask is a great way to help stop spreading viruses.

  2. Avoid unnecessary contact with people while experiencing flu-like symptoms.

  3. Keep hand sanitizer on hand for moments when you do not have access to soap and water.

  4. Keep a small package of tissues for coughing, sneezing and wiping


If you are a family caregiver in the Greater Victoria Area and feeling under the weather feel free to contact Pacific Coast Health Services 24/7/365 days a year. From a few hours to a few months and everything in between, we can fill in to help your loved one until you are feeling better.


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