No need to hide in your closet all season, but these tips might be helpful for you and your family in avoiding the flu while you are out and about.
It’s hard to escape the flu. Either you’ve had it, it’s made its way through every member of your family (even the dog) or you’re constantly hearing about it on the news, hoping and praying it doesn’t step foot in your house.
Just know, the flu is not over, and you should still take precautions to protect you and your family.
“It’s not too late to get a flu shot because the flu season can extend into the month of May. While the vaccination may not be effective against a specific strain this year, it will protect you and your family from the other forms of the flu which is extremely important,” says Christina Taylor, MD – Internal Medicine at The Iowa Clinic. “Those at higher risk include the elderly 65+, children under the age of 5, and those who are pregnant, but this year there has been an increased number of serious cases in the 50-64 years age range, so nobody is immune to this.”
10 ways to avoid flu in public places:
1. In the movie theater– avoid the blockbuster opening night. Go to the movie on a weeknight instead of a Saturday when the theater is packed multiple times throughout the day. Remember to wash your hands!
2. On a plane – move seats if you are sitting next to someone hacking and coughing everywhere. If that’s not possible, try your best to keep your head facing away from that person. Masks are shown to be most effective if used on the sick person versus the non-sick person, which could be an awkward conversation when you ask the sick person to wear a mask.
3. At the grocery store – the CDC says viruses can live on surfaces for two to eight hours. Use the antibacterial cart wipes. Keep you and your child’s hands away from their face and wash your hands as soon as you are done with the cart.
4. At a restaurant – to be honest, it’s better to just stay home, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated. Often times the virus spreads from those who don’t know they are sick or aren’t experiencing full symptoms. Combine that with those preparing your food and sitting around you, again you are better off trying new recipes at home. If you must, avoid busy days and times.
5. In the doctor’s office– if you are going for a routine check-up, you are in danger of picking up germs from all the “stuff” you touch – doorknobs, pens, arms of the chairs, magazines, and toys. Sit in a separate waiting room. Use your own pen. Bring your own books. Avoid touching your nose or eyes. And WASH YOUR HANDS!
6. At the gym – moderate exercise will boost your immune system, so don’t give it up. Do as much outside exercise as you can and wipe down all equipment before and after use.
7. At sporting events – outdoor events are better even though there might be larger crowds. It’s still a good idea to move to standing room only if someone around you keeps sneezing. Wear a scarf – it keeps you warm and shields your nose and mouth.
8. On public transportation – this is where you might encounter the person hiding in their coat and sneezing all over the window. Yuck! Try and stay three to six feet away and cover your mouth. Again, WASH YOUR HANDS (see a theme?).
9. If you are a college student – try to sleep at least six feet away from a sneezing roommate and avoid get togethers when the flu is at its peak. Also, alcohol weakens your immune system, so decreasing consumption may be wise.
10. At work – if someone comes to work sick, ask for them to be sent home. Avoid eating in large cafeterias or break rooms, a better option might be to just eat at your desk.
The Iowa Clinic follows CDC recommendations for a yearly flu vaccination. Although these tips can help avoid bringing this “pest” into your home … the flu shot is still recommended.
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