Top 25 Tips On Staying Safe During Flu Season
- Inhalation and ingestion are the two main vectors that nasties use to enter your body. You should always consider a coughing or sneezing individual in your vicinity as an obvious biohazard. If there is one near you try to stay well out of range from their sneezing spray or coughing expulsion radius. By all means be considerate of others thus you should always cover your own nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze to prevent others becoming infected and then dispose of the tissue immediately. Ingestion does not mean eating the virus. It refers to touching your eyes, mouth or nose with hands that have come into contact with viruses. You must consider your hands to be an extremely effective contagion mechanism, which must be kept scrupulously clean and sanitized.
- Prolonged exposure to being cold and wet lowers your resistance and increases your risk of infection. Avoid spending time outside in inclement weather. There are many people who won’t venture to the corner store if it’s cold or wet, yet will think nothing of watching a football game in freezing rain. Stay inside and watch it on TV.
- If you have to go outside in bad weather, take precautions to stay warm and dry. Wear a warm coat and raingear over it. Make sure you have a hood and keep it up over your head to keep water from seeping down the back of your neck. Umbrellas are ineffective if there is even a mild wind, so don’t count on them to keep you dry. Keep your hands, feet and especially the top of your head warm. In cold weather most of your heat loss is through your skull. Wear insulated headwear. If you get wet underneath your rainwear, go inside and dry off, even if it has to be in a public toilet or the changing room of a department store.
- Smoking and alcohol can impair your resistance. Alcohol suppresses the immune system and there is clinical proof of the link between alcoholism and severe infections. Smoking injures the respiratory tract, slows the cilia (which push contaminants out of your lungs) and increases flu susceptibility. That applies to second-hand smoke as well. You can be in severe danger even if a cigarette has never touched your lips. If people around you are smoking, tell them to go outside. If you work in a job where you are surrounded by smokers, get another job. Don’t think that pipe or cigar smoke is somehow better for you than cigarette smoke. All tobacco smoke is the same.
- If you are not getting a minimum of seven or, better yet, eight hours of sleep a night, do whatever necessary to do so. Go to bed earlier, drink a hot toddy, or even resort to sleeping medication. If your spouse’s snoring keeps you awake, one of you should head to the sofa.
- Don’t get tired or run-down. During a flu season is not the time to overwork, stress out or engage in strenuous activities. If something is stressing you, get away from it. That includes work. Cut down on your overtime, don’t take on extra work, and if someone proposes a big new project or task to qualify you for that long-awaited promotion, inform them that you don’t mind waiting a bit longer.
- Regular light exercise is best. Don’t go to the gym and work yourself into a lather or go running until you go “through the wall.” Aerobics and aquarobics are recommended for their smooth, steady actions. Keep your exercise level at least 10 percent below your target heart rate until the flu season is well past.
- Viruses can’t last long outside of a body but other germs can linger on wet toothbrush bristles, making it easy to reinfect yourself day after day. Buy a large supply of toothbrushes and toss them away regularly. Don’t let anyone ever touch your toothbrush.
- Clean, clean and clean some more. The bottom of some people’s toasters is suitable for archaeological digs. Throw away the crumbs and disinfect the tray regularly. Keep pantries, cupboards, shelves and any food storage areas scrupulously clean. Defrost your refrigerator and freezer regularly and clean them completely. Do you have any idea what is growing underneath your fridge, stove and other large household appliances? Move them and clean the filthy mess underneath. The same goes for large furniture. Move it all out of the way and vacuum, sweep or mop underneath. Turn your mattress over and spray it with a good-quality household disinfectant. A good shot of insecticide wouldn’t hurt either. Some people I know stick a couple of pet flea collars inside the mattress itself and they claim it works wonders in keeping the mites down. Change the collars every two months and don’t let them come into contact with your skin. Put your bedding, duvets and pillows into the washing machine regularly. If your pillow or duvet can’t be laundered, throw it away and buy one that can.
- Avoid team sports, contact with crowds and busy restaurants. If you have to go shopping, try the 24-hour supermarket between midnight and 8 a.m., when it should be nearly deserted. If you want to shop in big malls, try it first thing in the morning as soon as the stores open. You’ll face far fewer crowds and you’ll find your shopping is faster and more pleasant.
- Different cultures have different “comfort spheres.” Many Nordic people will keep a fair distance from you when speaking and are uncomfortable if you get too close. Many southern people like to almost touch noses with you. I once knew a Mexican gentleman who would only speak to you if he could put his hands on your shoulders. Adopt the Nordic attitude, regardless of your heritage; it will help minimize infection.
- Quit your bad habits. Stop biting your nails, as the germs hiding beneath them can easily infect you through your mouth. If you chew tobacco, put it away. If you’re into extreme sports, start watching them on television instead of participating. You don’t want to risk any undue hospital visits during the flu season.
- Designate at least one garbage can in your house a “no touch” container. Make sure that it has a snug-fitting pivoting lid and use it for the disposal of anything that could even remotely be contagious. Treat the bag as biohazardous material: buy the thickest and strongest bags available; only touch it with rubber gloves; seal it with a twist or nylon tie; and beware when you are taking it out:bags do leak or rupture and the contents can be infectious, especially the ones from “no touch” containers. Always wear rubber gloves and keep your arm out straight so that the bag is as far from your body as possible. If your clothes become stained from rubbish, change them immediately. Always wash the entire container and lid with hot soapy water and diluted bleach every time you change the bag.
- With skyrocketing energy prices, people are battening down and weather-stripping their homes so that not a single molecule of expensively warmed air can escape. That’s good economy but bad practice. You have to air out your house regularly as stale air can harbor a remarkable number of germs. Many people, especially in urban settings, are reluctant to keep windows open for fear of burglaries. Some new windows can be securely locked but still cracked open a tiny bit to let airflow in as they have a second locking flange a bit further out. I have them in my house and heartily recommend them. Besides, there is a radioactive gas called radon that can seep into your house from underground and if you don’t air out your house regularly, it can be extremely dangerous.
- If you have a health question, call your doctor’s office for advice instead of setting an appointment. Unless you require treatment, avoid visits to hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, health clinics and anywhere else that sick people congregate. Remember to stay healthy from unrelated ailments. If you have an abscessed tooth, swollen tonsils, constipation or any other niggling health problem you’ve been putting off treating, do it now.
- No matter where you live, there is certainly a local or federal health advice line, which is usually available on a toll free telephone number. Make sure that you get that phone number and keep it very handy. The toll free telephone numbers for health advice lines are usually quite easy to locate just by dialing directory assistance or letting your fingers do the walking through the Yellow or White Pages. A quick Google search may be just as effective. These health advice line services are extremely valuable resources for any type of health question that anyone may reasonably have and it would be a good idea to use of these services to assist you in identifying symptoms or receive other health and prevention advice from professionals.
- Kids are germ magnets. Almost everything about a child’s lifestyle is an infection opportunity waiting to happen. Supervise your children to keep them off the floor. Don’t let them roll around outside on the lawn or pavement. Keep toys scrupulously clean. Some younger children constantly put toys in their mouths thus they cannot be bleached. Try scrubbing them with hot soapy water. Dirty diapers are incredible germ reservoirs. Dispose of them carefully in a “no touch” container and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Keep your pets indoors for the duration of the flu season. They will adapt quite nicely to the indoor life and learn to love it. I once bred Bengal cats and had a total of 16 of them that never set a paw outdoors and they were just as happy as could be. Dogs and cats that run around outside can bring in a plethora of germs. They can bring in on their paws viruses-infected bird droppings or, even worse, an infected bird. Dogs can be litter trained like cats, however, I’d be concerned if I owned a dog the size of a Great Dane. Consider dirty litter a biohazard and dispose of it carefully in your “no touch” container. Pregnant women and small children should always keep far away from animal waste.
- Never use a handkerchief for any reason. Replace them with disposable tissues and make sure that you dispose of them in “no touch” containers. If you are silly enough to go outside without a supply of disposable tissues, sneeze or cough in the crook of your elbow, not in your hand.
- Replace the hand towels in your bathroom and kitchen with paper towels. Dispose of them in a “no touch” container as well.
- Only wear clothing that’s been thoroughly and properly laundered. Don’t pick your day’s clothes out of the dirty clothes hamper or off the floor. Treat any clothes that have come into contact with infectious individuals as biohazards. Keep them separate and launder them immediately in the hottest water available, with bleach if possible. Dispose of them otherwise. Don’t forget to sanitize purses, bags, belts, jewelry and other accessories.
- Don’t share anything with anybody: dishes, cutlery, cups, glasses, towels, bedding or anything else.
- Beware of restaurant cutlery and dishes. Be especially careful of cups in cafés. If they look even remotely soiled, don’t touch them and ask for a clean one. It’s a good practice to carefully wipe with a paper napkin one spot of the cup and drink from that part only.
- Stay well-hydrated to help keep infection at bay. Drink a minimum of eight 8-ounce (237-millilitre) glasses of water a day. Beer, coffee and tea do not contribute to this total as they are diuretics. If you can’t stand plain water, try the lightly fruity “designer waters” or soft drinks. Make sure that they are sugar-free, as sugared drinks also do not contribute to the eight glasses a day total. Always choose caffeine-free drinks for better hydration. Don’t believe the claims of “superhydration” by expensive “sports drinks.” There is nothing better for your body than fresh, cool, clean water.
- I can’t believe this actually has to be mentioned, but flush the toilet after every use.
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