The flu bug has officially hit my house. My oldest son, J-Man, started showing symptoms of the flu over the weekend. I am not a germ-a-phobe but thought it prudent to remind all the MIFS readers of some simple steps to reduce your exposure to the seasonal and H1N1 flu as well as what to do if you find yourself sick.
The image to the right is a microscopic view of the H1N1 flu virus.
- Wash your hands often with regular soap and water while you sing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself. This ensures you are washing long enough to kill any germs that can make you sick. Studies have shown antibacterial soap doesn't work any better than regular hand soap. It's the time you spend washing your hands that has the largest impact on removing germs.
- Try not to put your hands or other objects to your face. Kids do this far more often than adults but I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself nibbling on the end of my pen while in deep thought.
- Disinfect toys and hard surfaces at least once a week or more often if you have lots of visitors. Soak plastics in a solution of hot bleach-water for approximately five minutes and rinse with clean water for best results. You can also use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water to disinfect hard surfaces. For larger items, use a weak solution in a spray bottle, leave for a few moments then wipe down to avoid damage to wood or other similar surfaces.
- Wash soft surfaces in hot water and/or with bleach. If the item can't be washed, toss them into the dryer for twenty minutes to kill as much bacteria as possible. If this isn't a possibility then try spritzing with a disinfecting spray (test on an inconspicuous area for colorfastness).
- Avoid highly populated areas if there are high numbers of the bug being reported in your area. If you find yourself in an area with a high number of sick people, wear a protective mask to reduce your exposure and wash your hands as soon as you leave the area!
- If you or someone in your home gets sick PLEASE stay home until you are fever free without fever reducers for 24 hours or according to your school or work's wellness policy. This will help reduce the spread of seasonal and H1N1 flu. I believe this is how J-Man caught it. My husband's friend brought his sick girlfriend over last Wednesday and just days later, J-Man is coughing with a fever!
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is the enemy and usually the largest reason for ER visits.
- Get tons of rest.
- Keep the fever low. Take a cool bath or shower, wet wash clothes around the neck, take fever reducers as indicated will help regulate your temperature. If you can't keep your fever under control, call a doctor or visit the ER. Dangerously high fevers can kill!
- Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough to prevent spreading germs through hand to hand contact.
- See or talk to a doctor about taking an Antiviral to reduce the length of your illness. The sooner you get on Antivirals, the more effective they are against the flu.