Flu season can make even the healthiest of us nervous. Achy muscles and joints, fever and chills, sore throat, headaches, and a nagging cough that keeps us up at night are symptoms that can make anyone cling close to that bottle of hand sanitizer for protection.
As if flu season alone wasn’t enough of a cause for concern this year, it’s riding in on the coattails of COVID-19. If there was ever such a thing as the perfect storm for viruses, this is it.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves and our loved ones as safe as possible? Here are six flu safety tips to keep in your arsenal as the holiday season brings some not-so-festive guests to crash the party.
1. Get Vaccinated
Both the CDC and the World Health Organization state that the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine not only lessens your chance of getting the flu, but if that influenza virus manages to break through your defenses, that vaccine can still help shorten how long you’re sick, lessen the severity of your symptoms, and decrease your probability of being hospitalized by nearly 60%.
What the flu vaccine cannot do is make you sick with the influenza virus.
Although it’s become a popular urban myth, the flu vaccine does not contain live flu virus, so getting the vaccine won’t be the reason you get sick. You may experience redness, soreness, or tenderness at the injection site, but these effects typically last no longer than a day or two.
2. Wash Your Hands and Use Hand Sanitizer
Right after vaccinating, proper handwashing is second in line to help keep you well and prevent the spread of viruses. The CDC and WHO recommend washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or about the same amount of time it takes you to sing the happy birthday song twice.
Considering the number of high-traffic surfaces we touch with our hands during the course of our day, it isn’t surprising that passing germs through our hands is one of the most prevalent ways that viruses spread from person to person.
Not able to get to a sink to wash your hands? That’s okay, it happens to the best of us.
For times like these, a hand sanitizer is your go-to. Not just any hand sanitizer is capable of removing germs from your hands, so don’t just grab the first one you see in the checkout line at the grocery store. The CDC states that a hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol in order to be effective at removing germs, so double check that label before you swipe that card (or just head straight to the Sanitizer.com marketplace -- we’ve vetted everything there for you to make it easy).
3. Cover Your Mouth
While we currently have the added protection of face masks, it’s still a good idea to cough or sneeze into your elbow to reduce the spread of germs, and you should always avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands (mask or not) to lessen the likelihood of spreading your own germs.
If you do end up making a mask of your hands, be sure to grab some hand sanitizer ASAP. Though this tip is more to protect others around you than a tip to keep yourself safe, it’s just as important as our other tips!
4. Sanitize Surfaces
Think of the surfaces you touch during your day. The objects you touch most are high traffic -- smartphones and handheld devices, computer keyboards, and even your own reusable water bottle. Because these items see a lot of action, they are hotspots for collecting germs, including the flu virus.
Sanitizing these items throughout the day can help decrease the amount of bacteria hanging out on them to help promote a generally safer environment.
The CDC states that a sanitizer spray containing at least 70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol is effective in removing bacteria and germs from non-porous surfaces.
If you’ve got a sanitizer spray that contains enough of that germ-fighting alcohol, one little bottle of hand sanitizer can sanitize practically everything you touch during your daily hustle and bustle, including your hands.
5. Don’t Touch Your Face
Seriously, just don’t. We know it’s hard, and sometimes impossible -- it’s tough for us, too.
For times when it’s unavoidable like if you’ve got to get something out of your eye or you need to use a tissue, grab some hand sanitizer and remove the germs from your hands before you touch your face, and make sure to let that sanitizer completely dry first. Alcohol + eyes is not the best combination, trust us.
6. Avoid Sick People
With all the social distancing currently in place, it shouldn’t be difficult to steer clear of people who are sick. Making sure you keep that six-foot distance between yourself and others while shopping, waiting in lines, or grabbing a bite to eat is a given.
Even when your friends, family members, and coworkers are sick, you should still stay away. This is easier said than done, especially if you have kids, but you can take measures to distance yourself and others as much as possible.
- Quarantine the sick family member in their room or in another part of the house away from everyone else.
- Use sanitizers to frequently wipe down surfaces that all family members regularly touch.
Wash blankets, sheets, and clothing the sick family member uses before they’re used or handled by anyone else.
Flu spreads most quickly in the fall and winter months, hitting peaks in December and February. You can prepare yourself and your family for flu season by being prepared.
- Know the symptoms. Is it a cold? Is it the flu? Is it COVID-19? It’s stressful trying to determine what you’ve got. Know the symptoms of the flu: fever, achy joints, cough, and headache.
If you aren’t sure if you’ve got the flu or COVID, get tested. Know where you can go to get a flu and/or COVID test ahead of time to make it easier on you when you aren’t feeling 100%.
- Stock up on the necessities, but don’t hoard. Nothing is worse than having to make a trip to the store when you’re feeling out of it, not to mention others being put at risk of being exposed to your germs. Pick up the items you’ll want on-hand ahead of time so you don’t have to make a trip when you’re not well.
- Be generous with your hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer helps keep your hands clean between washes and can also sanitize surfaces if it contains at least 70% alcohol -- be generous with it, we’ll make sure you never run out.
Flu season during a pandemic is pretty intimidating, but you can be prepared and take precautions to stay safe and healthy.
You don’t have to do it alone, either; our team at Sanitizer.com can help equip you with the tools you need to keep hands and surfaces properly sanitized so you can be confident you’re being proactive in spreading love this holiday season, not germs.