How to Prevent the Flu by Stopping the Spread of Germs:
Flu season isn't over. There is still plenty of time to come down with the flu but luckily there are steps you can take to prevent getting sick. The number one way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is your first defense against getting hit with the flu. The CDC recommends vaccination around October however, it isn't too late. You can still get the flu vaccine and by following the steps below you can help to protect yourself and others from spreading the flu.
Keep Your Distance from Others:
When you are sick it is best to avoid close contact with other people. Keeping your distance from other people isn't always easy but it can help stop the spread of the flu. Flu is spread person to person through germs expelled from your mouth and nose that come into contact with other people and surfaces. Many medical professionals recommend standing six feet away from other people when you are contagious or symptomatic.
No Work or School While You are Contagious:
If you are sick you should stay home, it is hard to stay away from people while you are at work or school. That means missing work and/or school which is obviously not ideal. However, offices and classrooms are generally closed room areas filled with people and it is easy to spread illness there. Also, when you are sick you won't be as productive anyway. It is not heroic to risk exposing all of your classmates or coworkers. They won't thank you for covering their work surfaces in flu germs! Remember to stay home as much as possible when you are sick, that means you will have to limit the errands you run as much as possible.
Cover Your Mouth and Nose
The flu brings sneezes and coughs. Make sure you cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading germs to people and surfaces around you. It is best to use a disposable tissue since it can be easily discarded. However, if you use a cloth handkerchief it will need to be laundered in hot water after each use, otherwise you risk spreading germs. N95 particulate respirators and surgical masks are an easy way to keep your nose and mouth covered if you are sick. Between surgical masks and N95 particulate respirators, the N95 masks offer greater protection against airborne germs. This is because the N95 masks are thoroughly tested to block smaller particles than standard surgical exam masks. They can also be used to protect you before you get sick. If you are caring for a friend or loved one who is sick a mask can help keep you from succumbing to the same illness. The flu is easily spread person to person by droplets of moisture coming from the mouth or nose. The mask works as a protective barrier.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is always important but when you are sick it is extremely important. Washing your hands will help protect you from the flu. Soap and water is best but if that is not available you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer like Purell or Sani-Hands.
- Wet your hands with clean running water. The water can be warm or cold
- Turn off the water and apply liquid or bar soap to your hands
- Lather the soap on your hands by rubbing your palms together
- Make sure the soap lather covers the tops of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
- You should scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Turn the water back on and rinse your hands and fingers very well
- Dry your hands on a clean towel or let them air dry
Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth
Germs are spread by our hands. When you touch something that is contaminated with germs and then you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth you are transferring the germs to yourself. This can cause you to become sick. An easy way to stay healthy is to really try to keep your hands away from your face. It is never a good idea to rub your eyes or nose with dirty hands.
Clean and Disinfect Surfaces
Disinfectants are used to kill the germs that can make you sick. It is good practice to disinfect frequently touched surfaces of your home, office, or classroom. Areas like counters, table tops, door knobs, all of these are used many times a day and can become covered in germs. This is especially important if someone is sick. When are person is sick with the flu or a cold they are contagious for as long as 24 hours after their last fever. This is a long time to be contagious! Imagine how many things you touch in an average day. That is a lot of places to spread germs. Disinfecting surfaces doesn't have to be hard, there are easy to use disinfecting wipes that are specifically designed to be used on the hard surfaces of your living and working spaces. By keeping your environment clean you will help keep everyone much healthier. Disinfectants are also available in large bottles which makes cleaning large areas even easier. When you are disinfecting an area it is a good idea to use disposable washcloths to keep germs from spreading. If you do use cloth, make sure you wash everything in hot water after one use.