man in dracula costume inspiring fear

Kids love getting in the Halloween spirit. One thing kids often don’t care to do, however, is listen to their parents’ advice. That’s why one doctor has devised a devious plan to teach kids an important hygiene trick under the guise of Halloween fun.

Now is the perfect time to teach kids to “cough like dracula,” says Frank Esper, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Childrens Hospital. To “cough like dracula” means to cough with one’s nose and mouth tucked into their elbow.

“What we try to do, is we try to teach kids to cough into a place where we don’t touch other people,” says Esper in a press release from the clinic. “Our elbow has been one of the best things [to cough into] we have found over the last [few] years, so, when we cough into our arm, and into our elbow, we don’t have to worry about moving those germs from place to place.”

When a person downright rejects this practice of coughing into the elbow and simply coughs into open air, that act can send germs flying as far as three to five feet. Some of these germs — like those that cause measles — stay in the air for hours.

Sure, kids and adults alike can cough or sneeze into their hands to prevent germs from traveling through the air, but this act simple spreads the germs to the hands, which of course touch countless objects throughout the day. That’s why the act of coughing or sneezing into the hands isn’t recommended. 

No matter how kids are sneezing or coughing, parents, caregivers and adults should encourage them to wash their hands often, using soap and water for 20 seconds each time. Esper recommends providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer to children under the age of 3 because they’re often too young to wash their hands well.

Even with coaching, It’s hard to imagine children practicing proper hand hygiene when such a large portion of adults fail to do so. In fact, a 2018 study from the US Department of Agriculture found that the average person fails to wash their hands correctly 97 percent of the time. 

The lack of proper hand hygiene in society further demonstrates just how important a role custodial professionals have in keeping facilities clean — especially high touch points. To keep building occupants their healthiest, these touch points should be cleaned and disinfected often using the best of practices.