“Corona Safe Shake” or “Elbowla” Can Save Lives

Hey parents, a quick pedcast to help keep you and your children safe during the corona outbreak of 2020. A few years ago, during the ebola outbreak, I coined the term “Elbowla”. It’s a hands free handshake that eliminates a lot of the spread of germs from person to person. Now in the era of corona virus, I am reintroducing it but calling it the “Corona safeshake”. Stay tuned to learn more.

Musical Introduction

How Do Germs Get Around So Fast?

Germs are able to move around the globe so quickly because both children and adults touch various surfaces, and then move those germs into their bodies by by wiping their nose, rubbing their eyes, or putting things we touch in our mouths. We witnessed their incredible travel speed during the H1N1 outbreak a few years ago and now we are seeing it again with the corona virus. H1N1 flu  managed to reach every continent, despite our best attempts at isolation, and it did it in 2 weeks. And since we can’t see these microbes, we inadvertently and unknowingly move them around and infect ourselves and others. And sas you probably know,  your children are the germs most fertile friends since their hygiene is so terrible and they seem to be constantly sick. They are virtual incubators for microbes. Fortunately, so far during this 2020 corona virus outbreak children don’t seem to be getting sick, but, they may turn out to be the key to spreading the germ. time will tell. So what can we do to cut down on the transmission of germs in the era of deadly germs like corona virus and ebola? Well, the CDC has an answer. Their strategy comes down to 4 simple steps:

1. Keep your children’s hands as clean as possible by teaching them how to wash their hands properly, by using hand sanitizers when soap and water is not available, and by taking responsibility to remind your kids about keeping their hands clean.  Just like Grandma said, hand washing is vital to your children’s good health.

2. Keep your children home and away from others when they are sick. It is particularly important to keep them away from babies and the elderly who have such difficulty handling these viruses.

3. Discourage your children from shaking hands with others. Instead, teach them to greet each other by bumping elbows, not fist bumps, but elbows. I called this the “Elbowla” during the ebola outbreak of 2014 but I am now calling it the “Corona Safeshake”. I know what you are thinking, this will make their elbows full of germs, right? Well even if their elbow are very germy, your kids are not going to wipe their nose or eyes with their elbows hence a much lower chance of inoculating themselves with a sickness. Elbows bumping breaks up the hand to mouth/nose/eyes cycle.

4. And rather than teaching your children to cover their coughs with their hands, teach them to cover the cough with the crook of their elbows. Yes, that makes for dirty elbows but it keeps their hands clean and greatly reduces the number of infected droplets they are spreading to others in the air and on surfaces. Oh, and those clothes they come home from school wearing that are full of germs, toss them in the laundry as soon as possible to be safe.  Don’t believe that clothes carry germs, think again?



I hope you found this pedcast useful. In our globally connected world, we are going to have to figure out a way of defending ourselves against novel viruses that seem to be emerging on a regular basis. Breaking their cycle of transmission seems to be the best strategy to date. If you find the information on docsmo.com useful, consider taking a moment to like, share, and comment where you get your podcasts or on social media. This is pediatrician, Dr. Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E in Charlotte, hoping you think twice before you or your children take, another hand shake. Until next time.