It may be the holiday season, but it’s also cold and flu season. Keep illnesses from spreading through holidays into the New Year with these tips, for a cleaner and healthier for you and everyone around you.
- Get a Flu Shot. While flu season starts to peak in November, the heaviest months for flu are December through March. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies that provide protection against influenza infection to develop in the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all Americans 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot each year.
- Wash Your Hands. According to the CDC, the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others is to clean our hands. Critical handwashing times include:
- Before and after preparing or eating food
- Before and after tending to someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After handling an animal or animal waste
- After handling garbage
- Spread the Word, Not the Germs. Help others learn the importance of handwashing for good health. The American Cleaning Institute's materials and activity sheets can be used in schools, day care centers and at home to teach the importance of handwashing.
- Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes. "Droplet spread" is a major culprit in spreading cold and flu germs. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw it away. If there's no tissue in reach, bend your arm and cough or sneeze into your elbow. The idea is that people are less likely to touch each other's arms than each other's hands. But no matter what cover-up you use, promptly wash your hands.
- Give Back and Keep Your Community Healthy! Help others in need stay clean and healthy, too, by donating handwashing and cleaning supplies. Cleaning kits are always in need at homeless shelters and food banks. This can be a worthwhile project during the holidays or throughout the year. Celebrate Martin Luther King Day as a day of service or give Valentine’s Day care packages to share the love. Whatever the day, find a reason to help others!