Flu season is a time of war – a war against germs. Invisible to the naked eye, they sit lurking and waiting for any old hand to come by and then WHAM! By the time you or your kid starts coughing, it's usually too late. Once you start showing symptoms, you're already contagious. You may be wondering how to avoid the flu virus all together? The answer isn't so simple.
Short of quarantine or biohazard suits, there's no surefire way to stop the common cold and flu. But that never stopped us from trying! With enteroviruses like EV-D68, which mainly targets children, in the mix, now more than ever it's important to help keep your family safe.
What Can You Do?
Your best defense is a good offense. On top of washing your hands on a regular basis, here are a few tips and tricks to preventing the flu before it ever has a chance of reaching you and your family.
- Avoid hugs and handshakes. This may seem anti-social but it will go a long way in preventing the flu. Avoid close contact, especially from people who are sick. Even if you're a thorough hand washer, who's to say the person you're about to shake hands with is, as well?
- Stay home if you're sick. Don't try and tough it out to show the boss you're committed. If you're sick, stay home! No running errands and no doing last minute chores around the house. Stay in bed and keep your sickness confined.
- Wash your water bottles and cups after each use. This is easy to overlook. A lot of times we reuse the same water bottles for the gym or cups by our nightstand at night thinking, 'what's the harm?' A lot if you're sick. Reusing cups and water bottles allows flu germs to linger and will slow the recovery process. Not to mention, it lowers the risk of someone else getting sick if they happen to take a sip from your cup. Which leads to our next point…
- Don't share. Forget everything you learned in Kindergarten. Flu season is a time to be selfish. Past not sharing things like utensils or cups, make sure you're wiping down community items like remotes and iPads after each use. If your child is sick, make sure they use the same iPad and aren't sharing it with their siblings.
- Take care of you. We all try to eat right and to get enough sleep, but with busy schedules what we should do isn't always what we actually do. You're always taking care of your family, but don't forget to spend a little time on you. It's important during flu season to take care of yourself, especially if you start to experience any of the warning signs. A strong immune system is your best chance at keeping away the flu.
- Get the flu vaccine. Period. Multiple studies have proven the flu vaccine provides a strong line of defense. A simple 10 minutes and a quick prick can save you from a week or more of feeling miserable. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm)
- Know the facts. When you're cleaning your home, it's important to know the facts about germs so you're vigilant in the fight against the flu.
- Cold and flu germs can live on surfaces for up to two days.
- The flu virus is heat sensitive and multiplies quicker when it's cooler. It usually starts in nasal passageways and spreads from there.
- Enteroviruses, different from the flu virus, mainly strike between July-October and are especially prevalent as summer temperatures begin to drop.
- The majority of people who catch a cold or the flu do so by placing infected hands to their eyes, nose or mouth.
- The flu typically lies dormant for about three days before showing symptoms.
How to avoid the flu and other enteroviruses like EV-D68 is a tough question. But with these quick tips, you'll be on your way to protecting your family and preventing the flu from hitting home.