Keep It to Yourself: How to Protect Your Family When You Have the Flu
Unfortunately, you've caught the flu. Keep it from spreading to your family by taking these precautions.
Flu season can last from October through May, usually peaking in late December through March. The best way to avoid the flu is to get the flu shot. But if you or someone in your house is already sick, try to keep the virus from spreading to other family members. Flu germs spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing and contaminated surfaces and objects. Here are some tips that may help you keep the illness at bay.
- Stay home. To get over the flu and to prevent spreading it to others, stay home from work or school for at least five days after flu symptoms begin. These may include stuffy nose, cough, headache, tiredness, fever, achy muscles and sore throat.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. This is the most important precaution you can take to avoid spreading germs. Dry your hands with a paper towel that you can throw away. Carry an alcohol-based hand gel, spray or wipes when you are out in case soap and water aren't readily available. Be sure to wash your hands as soon as possible if you:
- Sneeze, cough or blow your nose
- Care for a sick person
- Go to the bathroom
- Clean or disinfect surfaces
- Are about to eat
- Cover your mouth and nose with a clean tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away as soon as you use it. If you don't have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with your upper sleeve or the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
- Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Don't share eating utensils, drinking glasses or bottles with anyone else. Use disposable paper cups when you brush your teeth and throw them away after one use.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects that are commonly used, such as kitchen countertops, door and sink handles, light switches and telephones. Clean the surface with soap and water before you disinfect with a store-bought disinfectant. Don't forget keyboards and TV remotes.
- Take an antiviral medication (such as oseltamivir or zanamivir) if your doctor suggests one. It may reduce symptoms and shorten the time that you're contagious.
- Launder clothes and bedding that may be contaminated with flu germs. Don't shake sheets when you take them off the bed. Wash your hands after you handle dirty laundry and before you take clean laundry out of the washer or dryer.
- Avoid close contact with other household members.