How do you fight the flu?
You can take steps to protect yourself from one of winter’s worst “side effects” – influenza, or the flu. These simple steps include frequent handwashing, coughing and sneezing into you arm/sleeve, getting an annual flu vaccination and staying home when sick.
Prevent influenza with frequent handwashing
Hands spread an estimated 80 percent of common infectious diseases like the common cold and flu. Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Good handwashing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults.
|Wash your hands BEFORE:
|Wash your hands AFTER:
|Children should also wash their hands after playing with toys shared with other children.
Steps for good handwashing technique
- Remove all rings and wet your hands with warm running water.
- Put a small amount of liquid soap in the palm of one hand. Bar soaps are not as hygienic as liquid soaps because they stay moist and attract germs. If bar soap is the only option, it should be stored on a rack so that it doesn’t sit in water.
- Rub your hands together for at least 15 seconds so you produce lather. Make sure you scrub between your fingers, under your fingernails and the backs of your hands.
- Rinse your hands well with clean running water for at least 10 seconds. Try not to handle the faucets once your hands are clean. Use a paper towel to turn off the water.
- Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel
Note: using sterilization liquids, while not effective as handwashing, are a good option to use when soap and running water are not available.
Model good handwashing technique to your children. Have them sing a song like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” while rubbing their hands together to teach them the amount of time it takes to clean their hands properly.
Cover your cough and sneeze
Sneeze and cough into your elbow or sleeve or use a tissue. After wiping or blowing your nose with a tissue, throw away the tissue and wash your hands. Keep your fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth
Get your annual influenza vaccination
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza. Each year there is a new vaccine to protect against new strains of the influenza virus — that’s why you need a flu shot every year. The best time to get your influenza vaccination is early in the flu season, between October and December, before the number of influenza cases increases in Canada. Full protection against influenza takes about two weeks from the time you get the flu shot and lasts for about 6 months.
Stay at home and avoid crowds when sick
If you have the flu, avoid going to work and being in large crowds as you can spread influenza easily to others. You should also visit those who have influenza only if necessary.
Keep common surfaces clean
Keep personal items separate if a household member has influenza. Use a disinfectant to clean surfaces around a person who is sick with the flu. Do not share personal items or drinks.