According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu season has already started! Here are some tips on what to do when those around you are sick, how you can help them, and how to keep from catching the flu yourself.
Get a flu shot!
It’s not too late – unless you’ve developed symptoms already. The CDC estimates that each year over half the adults in the US fail to get a flu shot. Since getting vaccinated dramatically decreases the odds that you’ll get the flu, why take the risk that you might get sick, miss work or school, and spread the virus to others?
Know if it’s really the flu
Make sure what you or your family member has is really the flu! Flu symptoms include fever over 101 degrees, chills, body aches, dry cough, fatigue, headache and sore throat. Don’t rush to the doctor’s office without calling first. Waiting rooms are just about the most infectious places on earth. If the nurse or physician recommends that you come in for an office visit, bring your own reading material and don’t touch anything!
If a co-worker or a family member is sick with the flu, disinfect your office or home. Clean your desk, keyboard, phone, door knobs, countertops, bathroom fixtures, and chair (armrests, too!) with antibacterial cleaning products or wipes. Make sure you wipe down everything at least once a week.
Try to avoid being exposed to others as much as possible. Shop online instead of going to the mall. Eat at home instead of at a restaurant. Watch a DVD or online movie service instead of going to the theater. Places with high concentrations of people are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses.
Limit personal contact, particularly with someone’s face or hands. The air kiss and fist pump are back in style! Forgo shaking hands with or kissing people (even on the cheek). Although it may seem like you’re brushing them off, it’s really the most considerate thing to do.
Wash your hands
You’ve heard this millions of times, but studies have shown it’s the most effective method of preventing the transmission of disease. Use running water and soap and sing a little song to yourself—get through at least the first verse while lathering. This should be the rule after using the restroom, touching public doors, and eating a meal or snack.
Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Ask those serving you food to wash their hands if you see them with a runny nose. Remind your medical professionals, too! Washing hands and gloves are especially important when you see the doctor.