143977901_78c2b2c961 On Saturday I was standing in line with my son at Office Depot with about three hundred other parents. We were there with kids of varying heights doing last minute school supply shopping (It never ends!). In the middle of the main aisle, right in front of the check out lines, where you have lots of time to look them over, was a five foot high display of (wait for it…) hand sanitizer!

Not just Purell either. The teenager who belonged to the woman behind us, traipsed up to the display and mockingly put a box of face masks to her chin. "How do I look?" The parents in line smiled weakly, resisting the urge to shout to their kids, "Yes! Grab them! They will fit perfectly in your locker next to the HAZMAT suit." 

Here's something to keep in mind. Merchandisers want you to be as anxious as you need to be to purchase their products. Do not go there. Instead let's look at some facts as presented by Well blogger Tara Parker-Hope who wrote Preparing for a Stressful Flu Season just in time for the parents of the back to school crowd. In it she responds to some essential frequently asked questions, like:

  • How worried should we be?
  • Are children at higher risk for swine flu?
  • When will the swine flu vaccine be available? Will there be enough to go around?
  • How do I get a swine flu shot?
  • What about the severe complications that followed the last swine flu shots, given in 1976?
  • What are the symptoms of swine flu? When does it become an emergency?
  • Should I bother getting a seasonal flu shot?

          Believe me, the answers are reassuring. OK, I admit, that doesn't mean I didn't get the locker sized hand sanitizers for each of my kids, and a couple for my office. Not the masks, though. All summer we trained the kids to wash their hands as soon as they walked in the house and as often as they can during the day without losing their skin. Hand washing is still the most proven effective way to reduce the spread of illness.

          And if my kids or I do get sick?  We promise to stay home.

          Related articles:

          What Me Worry? Swine Flu

          Warning Signs That Flu Is Serious

          Be Proactive, Be Healthy

          Excessive Calm A Symptom of Swine Flu

          Photo courtesy of Bob Reck via Flickr