Preparing for a Healthy Holiday Season and Beyond: Safe Cleaning and Hygiene Practices
Yolonda Freeman-Hildreth, PhD, PA-C
November 16, 2022
After two challenging holiday seasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this holiday season is likely to be highly anticipated for travel and large gatherings. However, as cold and flu season ramps up, it is critical to remain alert and aware of precautions that can keep your family, friends, and guests safe – and to share that information with your patients so they can do the same. The early increase in seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity seen this year underscores the important role of proper cleaning and hygiene in maintaining overall health.
For many Americans, the way we think about cleaning has changed since the pandemic began. According to a recent ACI survey, 70% of Americans now view cleaning as a way to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their families, compared to only 30% of respondents who view cleaning as just a chore. This is a big shift, when only one year prior, 7% of Americans viewed cleaning as a way to curb the spread of germs and illness.
As a PA and an educator of future PAs, it’s important to prepare my students not only for patient care, but also to share tools and resources patients need to prevent health issues and live healthy lives. In addition, as a mom of a 12-year-old daughter with asthma, I know firsthand the importance of implementing safe cleaning and hygiene practice for my family. This holiday season, as you prepare to host family and friends or gear up to travel, there are important cleaning precautions and daily habits that can be easily integrated into routines.
For example, frequent handwashing is a proven way to curb the spread of easily transmittable germs. Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, like light switches, doorknobs and countertops, can also help prevent the spread of germs in your home.
Because of my daughter’s history of asthma, I take special safety measures to keep my household safe. In order to prevent accidental exposure to cleaning products, I keep them in their original containers and familiarize myself with the safety information on the product labels. In addition, I am cautious to never mix cleaning products to avoid inadvertently producing toxic fumes that trigger my daughter’s asthma. Additional safety practices I implement in my household include:
- Educating my daughter about the proper usage and storage of household cleaning products
- Storing household cleaning products in a dedicated area, out of reach of pets or young children
- Wearing protective gloves if indicated on the product label to avoid skin irritation
While these steps are important year-round, the holiday season brings a unique set of circumstances – like higher traffic of household visitors – that call for special vigilance towards safety measures when using and storing cleaning products. There’s a two-pronged approach: first, to clean thoroughly for the safety of family and guests, and second, to store the cleaning products safely so they do not fall into the hands of curious young ones unexpectedly.
Whether you are traveling with your little ones to the homes of relatives or friends or are preparing to host young children in your home, take a moment to review your house through their eyes. Avoid accidental exposures by storing all cleaning products and laundry detergents up high, out of sight and reach and in their original containers.
This fall and beyond, there are key steps you can take to help ensure a safe and healthy holiday season. Learn more and find resources by visiting www.cleaninginstitute.org/cleaningiscaring.
About the partnership: Since 2019, the PA Foundation has partnered with the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) to help patients and the public understand the benefits of safely using and storing the cleaning products so many of us rely on every day.