Don’t Let the Flu Get You!

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Transmission occurs when someone who has the flu coughs, sneezes or talks, spraying droplets onto other people or surfaces. You can get the flu by touching a surface or an object contaminated with the flu virus and then touching your face.

A simple fact: when someone coughs, germs can spray up to 8 feet, even if their mouth is covered!

Did you know: the biggest source of infection comes from your hands? We touch our faces approximately 30 times every hour, exposing ourselves to lots of different germs, including the flu virus.

However, the biggest sources of germs are not necessarily airborne, but from items we frequently touch on a daily basis. Surprisingly, the items listed below are the dirtiest, most-handled items:

•    Restaurants –  Items frequently handled by customers and staff (menus, ketchup, mustard, salt & pepper shakers, etc.) are breeding grounds for germs. Think about how many people have touched them in a day, a month, or a year after wiping their mouth, shaking someone’s hand, going to the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose.

•    Bathrooms – Door knobs, toilet and faucet handles, soap and paper towel dispensers, hand dryers are all commonly touched surfaces that are shockingly dirty. What have people entering a restroom touched prior to the door knob? We all know what we do prior to flushing! We touch the soap dispenser and faucet handles that have been touch by dirty, germ-infested hands of countless people. Then after we are all washed and clean, we turn off the contaminated faucet and turn the dirty door knob. Hand dryers eliminate paper towel use but we touch the button on the dryer after the dirty faucet.

•    Women’s purses – Did you know your purse is one of the filthiest things you touch all day? We frequently just place them on floors, not thinking of all of the things that have been on the floor prior to our purse. Think about how floors (especially in public places) can be contaminated from shoes, food and critters and all of the foot traffic carrying germs from dirty streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and grass (where our four-legged friends love to relieve themselves). We place them in shopping carts (which are so dirty many stores now provide germicidal wipes). We open and close them all day long, even after getting a tissue to blow our nose, and then go home and place them on our countertops and tables.

•    Money – Whether paper or coins, money starts out in Washington and comes into contact with a great deal of dirty hands, wallets and surfaces before it reaches your hands in Florida!

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get your flu shot and wash your hands frequently!

Here are a few other simple suggestions to help you avoid the flu:

• Avoid touching your face

• Disinfect home surfaces regularly

• Avoid crowds and people known to be sick

• Carry and use hand sanitizer regularly

• Use a napkin or your foot to flush

• Use a paper towel to off the faucet and open the restroom door

• Push doors open with your elbow instead of your hand

• Cough / sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand

• Use napkins to handle condiments in restaurants

• Use hand sanitizer after handling menus or condiments

• Use a purse hanger

Stay safe and healthy this flu season by getting your flu shot, washing your hands frequently and following these recommendations. If you think you have the flu, call your doctor immediately so anti-viral medication can be started.

For more information on home care palliative care services, contact UNS today at 1-800-334-5140 or email [email protected].

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