Last weekend I went to Life the Universe and Everything in Provo, Utah. This is a fantastic science fiction and fantasy symposium which has been going on for the last 34 years. I attended way back in the day when I was going to college and even participated in the planning and gophering for a few years. Then I went off and got caught up in post college life and didn’t make it back until recently. I’m glad to say that it’s an even better symposium these days, really maturing from its inception. We had fantastic guests of honor and some really good writing classes which definitely gave me food for thought. However…I’m going to talk about those in another post. This one is reserved for something else which I received from LTUE…Con Crud.
Con Crud is the combination of diseases which happens when you bring a lot of people together and there’s a lot of handshaking and elbow rubbing and lots of people go home sick. Watching Facebook I’ve seen that a good part of our convention guests got nailed too and it’s a nasty variety. Sooo…we’re talking Con Crud today. Con Crud is one of those things which is impossible to completely avoid, but there are a lot of things that you, as a convention attendee can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
1: If you’re sick stay home. I know this one is hard, particularly when you’ve paid good money to pre register and this may be your once a lifetime to see people, but it’s not fair to all the other attendees or the guests when you come in and make them patient zero. Then not only do the guests get sick, but everyone else who encounters them through the day. If you’re at the tail end of a cold or such and choose to come anyway then take it on yourself to wear a germ mask (available at just about any store with a health and first aid section) and don’t shake hands. If you want to see a fantastic representation of how fast mucus can spread and how it can be prevented with just a few precautions head on over to Discovery and look up the Mythbusters episode about the common cold. They show a party twice, with a host infected with a mucus stand in. When the host puts effort into keeping his liquids to himself he does a good job, but when he’s casual about it…everyone goes home covered.
Along these lines it should go without saying to cough into your elbow and wash your hands frequently. If they can teach it to first graders we can remember it as adults!
2: Wear gloves. Especially when you can make them work with your con going attire this is an awesome way to keep yourself and others healthy. This idea came up via Gail Carriger. She was a guest on Writing Excuses and talked about Surviving a Con. Go listen. The whole podcast is really helpful if you’re planning on hitting the con circuit as either an attendee or a presenter. I love this idea and think I’ll be investing in more gloves for my con going adventures.
3: Carry wet ones or hand cleaning gel, preferably both. The gel is good for a quick rinse, but the actual wet naps or other clothes are even better as they also remove stuff from your skin and can be thrown away.
4: Hydrate properly. Many convention locations have a tendency to be really dry, and due to rushing between classes and not wanting to have to stand in line for the bathroom all the time, people tend not to drink enough water. Soda doesn’t count as much as we love our caffeine. When you’re dehydrated and then come into contact with germs it’s harder for the body to fight off infection. And along those lines…
5: Go to bed. It’s easy at conventions to want to do EVERYTHING. All the things all the time, and while that is fun it can also lead to getting very little rest and being very run down. This is another contributing factor to getting sick. Even a nap during the day between a couple of classes is going to help to keep you well rested and you’ll enjoy everything a lot more.
6: Instead of shaking hands, fist bump, bump elbows, salute, bow, kneel, air kisses or come up with another way to say hello which is amusing but presses less flesh.
If we all work together to cover these steps it won’t entirely stop Con Crud, we’re just bringing too many germs from too many places together to keep them from partying. However, these steps will help increase the odds of a healthy con and week after, and everyone else will thank you too.
Next time…things I learned at LTUE.