Flu Fighters

Earlier this month, the 11-year old and I encountered a duo of 20-something males distributing boxes, free for the taking, of six, individually packages of “Sani*Hands,” Individual Hand Sanitizing Wipes.

Dressed in light blue t-shirts with “flu-fighters” printed neatly across their backs, they cheerfully greeted people on their way to work, school or the subway as they passed the northwest corner of West 73rd Street and Broadway.

I gladly accepted two boxes, one for the boy and one for me. The scene and its implications struck me as kind of funny yet a little bit eerie at the same time. Free things and flu fright.

But here’s the thing, despite the inundation of flu warnings that passed through my electronic in-box, signs posted to walls in libraries and across school campuses, I’m not really afraid of contracting the disease. As a mom, I sense a bit of unease vis a vis my kids, especially when the 11-year old had a hacking cough and stuffed nose given the cherry trees popped in full. He’s fine yet whenever he coughs in a public place, I feel pangs of guilt and the desire to tell everyone fortunately, he doesn’t have the flu. Just allergies.

If I must succumb to Lady Macbeth-like constant washing of the hands in an effort to stave off flu cooties, not blood, I prefer an alternative brand;

Hand Refresher

Hand Refresher

one that uses essential oils, smells good, doesn’t dry the skin and has a good back story.

I’ve never been one to sani/wipe my hands on the go. Mostly because I don’t like the heavy alcohol, skin drying effects of “cheaper” versions of wipes or liquids. However, last week, every one of the 29 emails about the swine flu stressed the importance of importance of clean hands. The missives range from how best to follow the CDC updates on twitter to checklists indicating what to look out for symptomatically or how to “prevent” contracting swine flu. But as of today, according to the BBC more than 1,500 cases of the flu have now been reported across 22 countries. I’ve received at least one email each health offices at three city schools and several from the physicain/scientist/husband who likes to keep me in the loop. (Don’t take that as a warning, he’s not overly at all concerned. My personal favorite included a link to the Institute of Medicine website and a report issued two years after the 1976 swine flu scare. You can take a gander at the Swine Flu Affair Report here.

Despite the outpouring of details, whether electronic or in print, the two flu fighter guys on the street hit home since, in my opinion, there’s a sense of uncertain uneasiness that underlies every cough, sneeze or germy interaction, flu season or not. And marketers, doing their job well, saw this as an opportunity to sell their brand.

But I’m sticking with my brand, despite the freebies. Sweet smell and all.

Truth be told, “alcohol is the best sanitizer,” says, Gale Mayron, who with her father, an Israeli-born chemist who moved to work for big pharma in Philadelphia in 1951, founded a groovy company: http://jaoltd.com/about.html. Mayron said sales aren’t great and it’s hard to know if sales are picking up given the fear of flu. “You don’t want a world pandemic to increase your sales.”

Unlike other sanitizers, Jao uses essential oils that actually smell pleasant, that don’t dry your skin and there’s something sweet about a daughter/father team combining their skills (hers marketing, advertising, mothering with his chemistry) to make a go of something for the greater good. The contents of the cobalt blue bottles are manufactured in PA but Mayron, 45, lives with her family in Brooklyn. Gotta love that borough.

I compared the ingredients of the two sanitizers:

Jao:
Active Ingredient: Ethyl Alcohol 65%
Other Ingredients: Water, Aloe, Glycerine (spelled with an e), Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Panthenol, Methyl Glucose Ether, Chamomile and Calendula Extracts, and Oils of Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Clary Sage.

Sani*Hands:
Active Ingredient: Alcohol 65.0%
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin(not spelled with an e), Carbomer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acelate

Surely, more than you’ll ever want to know. xoxo

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