Sneezers, please remember basic manners

Your parents should have taught you to cover your mouth

I’m writing this column this week about the subject of disgusting pigs. The disgusting pigs I’m referring to are lazy, selfish disgusting pigs who can’t even be bothered to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze.

This past weekend I was at a large event at the U of C, as a friend of mine was graduating from university. The event was hosted in a large gymnasium on campus, and included hundreds of faculty, graduates and guests all crammed into a rather small area.

I was busy taking photos of my friend and watched out of the corner of my eye as a person sneezed, coughed, coughed, then sneezed again, all straight out into the atmosphere without a single attempt at covering her mouth. Disgusting pig.

Those of us who try to take care of ourselves and avoid illness in the first place get disheartened when we see disgusting lazy pigs who don’t even make the slightest effort to show manners or hygiene to others.

All of us who were raised by half-decent parents in a society that has at least heard the word “manners” should know that when you are in the company of any other person and you have to cough or sneeze, you are to cover your mouth. People could be eating or drinking nearby and don’t want your germs alighting on their snacks, or simply breathing the atmosphere that was free of contagion before you entered the room.

What’s that you say, you don’t have a hankerchief or napkin to sneeze or cough into? Funny you should mention that problem. It isn’t difficult or costly to plan ahead. A handkerchief costs about 50 cents at a dollar store, and if you’re anywhere serving food, there should be napkins within easy reach.

If, like me, you were a fan of the original Mythbusters show on Discovery Channel (not that crappy new show), you should already know the answer to the question, “Does covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough make a difference?”

The Mythbusters examined sneezing and coughing with no attempt to cover your mouth; they slow-motion photographed and examined the moisture and vapour coming out of a sneeze or cough, and how it is almost instantly transmitted around the room you’re in if no attempt is made to cover the offending discharge.

Then they looked at how effective it is to use your hand to cover a cough or sneeze, plus a handkerchief and the inside of your elbow.

As it turns out, all three were effective at reducing or eliminating the amount of infected moisture you send into your neighbour’s lungs. The hand least so, because your fingers may be open when you sneeze and moisture slips through. Plus, keep in mind you may have to shake hands at some point in the day, so if you’re using your hand for sneezes or coughs, wash often.

The handkerchief was much more effective but it turned out the inside of your elbow was the most effective at stopping that infected moisture.

For the most part, many of us enjoy the use of two elbows, and raising them to your face takes less than one second.

So anyone who tells you “I don’t have a handkerchief” is just acting like a disgusting pig.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and always covers his mouth when he sneezes or coughs.

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