How to Stay Healthy This Flu Season
This article originally appeared in Community Caregiver, a
health information newsletter published by Wing Memorial Hospital for members of
the Greater Palmer community.
Vaccination is not the only way to help prevent the flu. Here are a few steps
you and your family can take to stay healthy this winter.
Perhaps the simplest and most effective way is to wash your hands often with
soap and water. Rub your hands vigorously together for at least 20 seconds and
scrub all surfaces. (Tip: Have your children sing the "Happy Birthday" song at
least twice while washing.) It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action
that helps dislodge and remove germs. Use regular soap; antibacterial soap is
not necessary as these soaps may contribute to the growing problem of antibiotic
When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand
wipes or gel sanitizers. You can find them in most supermarkets and drug stores.
If using a gel, rub it in your hands until your hands are dry. The gel does not
need water to work; the alcohol in the gel kills germs that cause colds and the
flu. However, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers do not
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when people
touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch their eyes, nose
or mouth. Germs can live for a long time (some for two hours or more) on
surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Viruses that infect the
nose, throat and lungs cause illnesses like the flu. The flu usually spreads
from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the droplets
from the cough or sneeze move through the air and are deposited on the mouth or
nose of people nearby. So, always cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw
it away. If you do not have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze with your hands
and then wash them. It is best to wash your hands after every time you cough or
If you feel ill, stay home from work and keep sick kids home from school or
day care. And keep in mind that most people with the flu will recover just fine.