While cold and flu season may not peak for a few more months, it’s important to start protecting yourself now as these germs are already in action. And unfortunately, germs that cause these and other illnesses can be found just about anywhere. With recent news indicating that infectious diseases like enterovirus and others are on the rise, it’s more important now than ever be mindful of germs.
It’s possible to defend yourself and your loved ones against infection with just a few simple steps. Try these tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before eating (or preparing) food, after coughing or sneezing, before and after treating a cut or scrape, after touching animals or animal waste, and after using the restroom, as well as any other time you have touched something that may harbor germs (think shopping carts, public staircase railings, etc.).When washing your hands, make sure to use soap and water and scrub hands together for at least 20 seconds (sing through the ABC’s once in your head). And always dry hands with a clean towel or paper towel, or let them air dry. If you don’t have access to a sink to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to help disinfect.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s estimated that the average person touches their face 16 times per hour, creating an easy way for germs to travel from your hands to your mouth or nose, greatly increasing the odds you will get sick. This is yet another reason to wash your hands frequently.
- Get vaccinated. While vaccines are not yet available to prevent all illnesses, you can protect yourself from the flu by getting a flu vaccine each year. Now is a great time to get immunized as flu season ramps up. For more information about the flu vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here.
- Don’t share germs. Despite your best efforts, it’s still possible to catch a cold, flu or other illness. If you are sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of illness. And if you think someone else might be sick, try to steer clear to avoid picking up their germs.
For Health Advocate Members
In between doctors at the moment, or not sure where you can get a flu vaccine? If you’re a Health Advocate member, call your Personal Health Advocate for help finding an in-network doctor. Plus, in the event that you do become sick, it’s always helpful to have already established a rapport with a primary care physician.
Other Helpful Resources
To learn more, please visit any of the websites below that provide additional information about how to protect yourself and prevent the spread of germs: