I have been traveling like crazy lately. In one week, I have seen students in California, Louisiana, and Connecticut. With the World Health Organization raising the flu pandemic alert level to 5 (out of 6), it is important for all of us to take an extra measure of precaution when traveling and working in schools.
* Constant Hand-washing - During any flu season, hand-washing is a must. Use soap and water as hot as you can stand it. The Mayo Clinic recommends that children wash their hands for as long as it takes to sing "The ABC Song" or "Row Row Row Your Boat." For grown-ups, that translates to about 20 seconds.
* Hand Sanitizing - If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or wipes with sanitizer.
* Doorknobs - Doorknobs in schools are touched by many people every day. A custodian at one school told me that he was advised to disinfect all the doorknobs as part of the school's Swine Flu prevention. Don't touch doorknobs if you can avoid it.
* Limit Personal Contact - This is a difficult one for me. Children want to hug me, shake hands, or touch me after a show. Normally, I oblige. However, in light of current events, I am trying vigorously to limit personal contact. Wave from the stage and smile - A LOT.
* Be Vigilant - If you notice a child who looks ill, let the school know. If you feel ill, stay home! Better to cancel a gig than risk your health and possibly, the health of others.
* Traveling by Air - Airplanes are incredible germ incubators and airports are filled with international travelers. Don't be afraid to travel with a face mask and gloves if you feel an elevated threat to your health.
* Don't Panic - If you suspect that you may be a 2009 N1H1 (Swine Flu) carrier, see a doctor immediately to get tested.
Let's hope this epidemic doesn't turn into a pandemic. We can all do our part to help prevent the spread of this highly contagious strain of the flu. Best wishes!
Dianne de Las Casas
Founder of Professional Storyteller