Ebola: How to help yourself (and your kids) to feel safe

Mental Health and Wellness
Ebola: How to help yourself (and your kids) to feel safe

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll uncovered that almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned about a possible Ebola epidemic in the United States, with four out of 10 saying they are “very” or “somewhat” worried that they or someone they love might contract the disease.

Here are some suggestions on how to help yourself to feel safe during these troubling times:

  • Educate yourself – but remember that the job of the media is to get you to read or watch. Try not to become obsessed with staying on top of news reports. Limit exposure for young children. Keep the situation in perspective by remembering that the odds of contracting Ebola in this country are extremely, extremely unlikely.
  • Get your flu shot.  Health care professionals are worried that once flu season starts, people might panic because flu symptoms mimic those of Ebola. Getting your flu shot will help minimize your risk of contracting flu.
  • Wash your hands. This is the best thing you can do to prevent any contagious illness. Twenty seconds, rubbing vigorously under running hot water. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer – these are easy to carry with you. It is especially important to wash your hands after using the rest room and before eating. After you wash your hands, try not to touch any surfaces in a public area without using a paper towel as a barrier.
  • Talk to your kids. Some signs that they might be worried (about Ebola or anything else) include unusual behaviors like acting out or withdrawal, complaints of headache or stomachache, not wanting to go to school, obsession with media stories. Remind them of the extremely low risk and that our government leaders are vigorously addressing the situation.
  • Avoid travel to areas where there have been Ebola outbreaks.
  • If you do come in contact with someone who has traveled to Africa or cared for someone with Ebola, call the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-CDC-INFO.
  • Talk to your health care professional if you think you need help.