If the kids come home from school in the next few weeks with
glitter on their hands, it might not be from art class. The glitter
might be make-believe flu virus droplets from a (pretend) unwashed
Health officials are issuing predictions that the influenza season
will come early this year, so Public Health Nurses and teachers
around the country are preparing respiratory hygiene lessons in
classrooms, as part of the health curriculum, ahead of
Since 2005, the Kleenex® Tissues SneezeSafe® lesson has become
popular among teachers and nurses looking for effective ways to
convey vital messages to children about why they need to trap their
sneezes and how to master the art of respiratory hygiene, using a
simple three-step approach:
- Trap it - with a tissue, cupped hands or the inside of your
- Bin it
- Wash it
Why 'trap it'? To help make the lesson stick, teachers use
water spray to show the class how far and fast an untrapped sneeze
can spread flu virus particles through the air, and bubbles to show
how long the invisible droplets can float in the air for others to
breathe. When water lands on the children's faces or bubbles pop in
their hair, teachers say the message gets through.
Why 'wash it'? Teachers show how far unwashed hands can
spread infectious droplets by involving the whole class in a
glitter handshake. This teaching and learning technique, developed
by Kleenex SneezeSafe, is now part of the Heart Foundation's
Government-funded fight against rheumatic fever.
For the ninth year, free teaching resources are being made
available by Kleenex Tissues for schools and Public Health Nurses
to download at www.sneezesafe.co.nz. And
this year they are offering 50 'model' SneezeSafe schools a
teaching kit and cupboard full of tissues as an incentive to
Dr Lance Jennings, Clinical Virologist and Clinical Associate
Professor, Canterbury Health Laboratories (Canterbury District
Health Board), has independently championed the Kleenex
SneezeSafe programme since it was first offered to New Zealand
schools in 2005. He presented a paper¹ in Malta in 2011 about the
unique approach New Zealand has taken with the SneezeSafe classroom
programme in mitigating influenza and other respiratory virus
infections in communities². Dr Jennings is also spokesperson for
The National Influenza Specialist Group warning that early onset of
the flu season is likely in New Zealand this winter.
¹ Jennings LC, Elton S.
The SneezeSafe® Programme: A novel approach to community mitigation
of influenza and other respiratory virus infections. Options for
the Control of Influenza VIII, September 2011, Malta
² Jennings LC.
Keeping Respiratory Disease Out of the Community. J NZ
Coll Prim Hlth Care Nurses 2011;10(2):6-9.
THE SNEEZESAFE STORY
There are more than a million children in Poland,
United Kingdom, Australia and the United States learning to sneeze
safely with the help of a respiratory hygiene lesson developed in
The Kleenex SneezeSafe lesson was created and first adopted in
kiwi classrooms in 2005 and has become an annual feature of
respiratory hygiene education in New Zealand, and now among
children in other countries too, with the back-up of high-level
The lesson plan and poster available to all schools FREE on-line
helps teachers deliver a short and engaging lesson. In the
SneezeSafe lesson children are taught to trap their sneezes, bin
their tissues and wash their hands. The message to them is simple -
trap it, bin it, wash it.
Children learn how far and fast un-trapped sneezes travel and why
they are the biggest culprit in the transfer of cold and flu
viruses. They learn how the brain sends messages to muscles in the
body to execute a sneeze which has the potential to send thousands
of infectious droplets into the air for others to breathe.
Designed to lift standards of cold and flu hygiene practised by
children and to stop bad habits before they start, the classroom
programme responds to the 'Personal Health and Physical
Development' and 'Healthy Communities and Environments' strands of
the national health curriculum.
For further information contact:
Sally Elton 09 486 5256 / 0274 980 568; firstname.lastname@example.org