CHI Distributes Winter Care Packages

There’s a chill in the air and, according to the University’s health representatives, it may take more than dining-hall cocoa to stave off a case of the shivers. As cold weather becomes more common at Harvard, so does the common cold—and students from the Community Health Initiative (CHI) are already on the defensive.

CHI representatives will be giving out “Winter Season Survival Kits” in dining halls today and tomorrow during lunch and dinner, in hope of staving off what they say is one of the top five reasons for weak academic performance.

“Colds and flus tend to rank in the top five impediments to academic performance for college students,” said Keli M. Ballinger, CHI supervisor and manager of the Center for Wellness and Health Communication. “We really wanted to make sure we got information out there about cold and flu prevention, and what you can do to take care of yourself.”

The kit, according to CHI representatives, is designed to raise awareness about staying healthy in the cold months.

“With the cold weather, a lot more people are susceptible to illness,” said CHI representative Meredith K. Loth ’09, who was handing out kits in Dunster’s dining hall yesterday. “People don’t tend to bundle up adequately.”

The plastic bag kits, which were assembled with funding from the University Health Services (UHS), contain a variety of items, including hand sanitizer, tissues, packets of tea, salt for gargling, and a disposable thermometer. The packets also include flyers with cold and flu remedies and prevention techniques, such as placing a bowl of hot water in front of dorm room heaters to raise the humidity.

For students originally from warmer areas, these kits are key, said CHI representative Emily W. Hogeland ’07.

“Being at college in the winter season is hard, especially for those who aren’t used to the winter,” she said.

But Alice Chi ’09 said that, although she is from a warm region of California, she didn’t think the kits would be helpful.

“I’ve been asking around like crazy about what I should do for the winter,” she said. “It’s nice to have these kits, but there should just be a place in the dining halls for washing your hands before you eat.”