Flu season is here (darn it). The single best way to avoid the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine and then hide in your home until flu season is over. Okay, that isn’t very practical. The flu is spread mainly from person to person in droplets that fly out when you cough or sneeze. These tiny drops from a sick person move through the air and land on the mouths or noses of others nearby. Germs are also passed along when you touch these droplets from someone else on a surface like a desk and then touch your own eyes, mouth, or nose before you get a chance to wash your hands. Viruses like the flu can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. We might not be able to avoid being exposed to flu germs, but we can certainly take actions to prevent the spread of germs.
Here are some everyday steps that may help you lower your chances of getting or spreading the flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer. Choose a sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid contact with colleagues, friends, or family members if you or they have the flu or a cold.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Disinfect surfaces at home or work, especially when someone is sick.
- Stay home. An adult can infect other people one day before symptoms show up and up to 5 days after they start.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, preferably using the crook of your arm.
Do you have any questions or concerns about getting a flu shot for you, your aging parent or loved one? Nurse Gina is available to answer your flu questions. Ask here.