- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Avoid the Flu this Season
Ways to Avoid the Flu
No one wants the flu. It is a hard illness to overcome, and the effects of the flu can be especially devastating on the very young, very old, or the already ill. People have died every year from getting the flu.
There are many ways to avoid the flu. With simple prevention methods, you can better avoid the flu this season.
Get a flu shot. Flu vaccinations are only good for one flu season, and they are only good for the virus that was active that year. Flu vaccinations start becoming available in late August. Get one then. It takes about 2 weeks up to one month for the antibodies to build up in your system. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. It is not possible. Your doctor may also have other shots available to you, ask if their are other vaccinations available, especially if you have a tendency to get the flu.
Wash your hands before you go to use the toilet as well as after. Washing your hands before assures that you are not introducing any germs and viruses to yourself needlessly. When washing your hands, make sure you use soap and warm/hot water. Scrub the surface of your hands and forearms for about 30 seconds minimum.
If you cough and don't have a handkerchief or tissue, cough into the crook of your elbow. You use your hands all the time, so using your hands to sneeze or cough into is a sure way to spread the germs to everything and everyone that you touch. Coughing into your elbow reduces the spread, although even then, a tissue or handkerchief is preferable.
Discard used tissues immediately into the trash. Don't place them into a pocket or sleeve to re-use. This means when you touch them with your fingers to retrieve them that you are exposing yourself and others to the germs and viruses contained on the tissue.
If you are sneezing and coughing, do wash your hands as often as possible, but especially after a hearty bout of sneezing and coughing, after using the toilet, before and after handling food, and after talking on the telephone or using the computer.
Wipe down all items used by sick members of the family using an anti-bacterial wipe. This includes telephones, mobile phones, remote controls, tables, trays, bathroom and kitchen sinks, faucets and toilet handles.
Encourage anyone sick in your family to have a trash can around them to discard used tissues and disposable cups.
Replace the towels and linens of anyone who is ill after every use, or switch to paper towels for handwashing for the time being until everyone is well. Get the sick person to keep their towels and wash cloths at the bottom of their bed, rather than keeping them in the bathroom, as this will reduce the amount of exposure for other members of the household.
If a household is already affected, take everyone's temperature daily. Anyone with an above normal temperature is presumed to be sick until 24 hours have passed with no rise in temperature. Take measures to reduce the amount of exposure by containing the amount of access that a sick person has to the entire house.
Use disposable cups and plates for the sick person, throw them away every evening and replace with fresh.
Discard toothbrushes after persons who are sick are well.
Soak everyone in the bathrooms' toothbrushes in bleach for 3 minutes, rinse well and then use. Make the ill person keep their toothbrush in their room so that there is no contamination from toothbrush to toothbrush.
Don't share any personal hygiene items with the ill person. Make sure that there is no sharing of food, soap, toiletries, clothing, towels, bedding, or pillows. Do not allow anyone to share a plate or food service item with a sick person!
Washing Items of the Flu Affected Person
Clothing and bedding, towels and linens should all be washed separately on as high a temperature as possible and dried separately. I know that people will say that this does not matter, but in my household, we managed to keep our exposure limited to two people by limiting interactions, washing clothes separately and creating a sick room.
When washing clothes of someone who is sick, make sure that you wash the clothes on the longest possible setting in order to loosen any germs, mucus, phlegm that may be somewhere. I literally use gloves to handle the infected person or their items. This includes when I do laundry if I am the sick person.
Cleanse Yourself After Heavy Exposure
No matter whether you are exposed to laundry, bio waste or other items, don't forget to treat your personal exposure area. I always get a soapy shower after I do laundry or change sheets, even if I already had one that day.
Make sure that you empty trash frequently into a trash bag that closes and/or carry it outdoors. Wash your trash cans every evening with a bleach water mix.
Apply lotion often as dry skin can be an entry point.
If your household has the flu, the kindest thing that you can do is let everyone who has been in your house know about it as well as cancel appointments for those who were going to be in your house until your house has been completely flu free for one week.
Here is an example e-mail of what I sent out a few years ago. I have changed identifying information.
Title: Flu Alert. Please Read. Flu Alert from J. Smith Family. Please Read
Email: At the time of this email, Jacob is now confirmed by the doctor to have the flu. Others in our family are now exhibiting symptoms. If you have been over to out home or interacted with any of us within the past week, you have probably been exposed and should take proper precautions.
All social plans we are hosting are cancelled until further notice.
All social plans we are a part of are now going to have to continue without us as we do not want to get anyone ill with the flu. Please do not call, email or visit until you get an email that we are well. This request includes everyone. PLEASE. Do not call, email or visit. We know everyone means well, but we need to rest and focus on getting well. I will keep everyone updated, but it will be easier to send one email to all rather than respond to several about the same thing.
Thanks for your care and concern.
Sound the All Clear
When the last person in our home was symptom free for 48 full hours, we emailed everyone and let them know that we were all back to normal. The wisest thing that I did was ask others to not call or come by. It saved a lot of energy. With the flu, the extreme tiredness is exhausting. Not getting enough rest is horrible.
When one of my friends got the flu, she changed the message on all of her voice mail sharing that she was ill and to please NOT leave a message.
Make sure you let everyone know that you are well, and then thank everyone for being so kind and caring during your recovery.
Notify School,Work and Daycare
Having the flu can be miserable. Make sure that you notify all of the people that you interact with in large numbers. Places of worship, school, work, daycare all need to know that they have possibly been exposed.
When you go to places where there are large numbers of people, practice good hygiene and hand washing. If someone seems sick, don't interact with them!