We know you’re thinking it, so we’ll say it — You definitely don’t want to get the flu this season. And yet each year in the United States, millions of us get the flu, thousands are hospitalized because of it, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thousands also die each year from the flu. So how can you help to prevent being exposed to or getting the flu? We have five simple health behaviors to keep you and your family flu-free this year below.
1. Get the flu shot
The single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself this flu season is to get the flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season.
2. Avoid close contact with sick people
If you have a friend, family member, or co-worker who’s sick, avoid close contact with them until they are better. It’s important to remember that the flu can be spread before a person knows they have it as well as 5-7 days after.
3. Wash your hands
Washing hands as often as possible using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help enormously toward preventing the spread of germs and getting the flu. Remember the steps: Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. Note that hand sanitizers may not eliminate all types of germs and harmful chemicals.
4. Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth
Viruses that cause the flu can enter your body through the nose, eyes, and mouth and make you sick. Wash your hands often before touching your face.
5. Cover coughs and sneezes
When coughing or sneezing, be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your upper sleeve or elbow and avoid using your hands. Also, put your tissue into a wastebasket for safe disposal and consider wearing a surgical mask to avoid spread if you are coughing or sneezing a lot.
6. Clean your home and office
It’s important to remember that cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. Think of them like this: Cleaning will remove germs from surfaces, and disinfecting will destroy them. Even if a surface looks clean, there still might be germs on the surface, so make time to disinfect regularly during flu season.
7. Practice healthy behaviors
Keeping your body healthy by eating well, managing your weight, being physically active, managing stress, and getting enough sleep will help keep your body healthy and strong this flu season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Protect and Prevent the Flu: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm
- About the Flu: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm
- Clean handwashing Saves Lives: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/
- Protect Yourself and Others: http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/
- Cover Your Cough: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/covercough.htm