How to prepare for the flu season

The flu season is fast approaching, and it’s important to be prepared. Here are 10 tips:

1. Get vaccinated if you haven’t already. This is the best way to protect yourself from catching the flu this fall/winter. Doctors recommend a yearly vaccination for everyone over six months of age. If you come down with flu-like symptoms, it’s important to call a doctor immediately.

2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do you cough into your hand? Try not to! Instead, use a tissue or place the dirty tissue in the wastebasket. If you can’t find a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm.

3. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, handkerchief, or sleeve. If you don’t have one of these things, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as much as possible throughout the day.

5. Do not share food, drinks, utensils or anything else that comes into contact with your mouth (such as lip gloss).

6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you’re sick. This will help protect you from catching the flu and other respiratory illnesses, such as colds and the common cold.

7. If you or a family member has flu-like symptoms, try to stay home from work, school and errands to avoid spreading the illness to others. If needed, call your doctor or pharmacy for instructions on when you should call about your symptoms.

8. Everyone with flu-like symptoms must cover his/her mouth when coughing or sneezing.

9. If you have flu-like symptoms, don’t go to the hospital emergency room unless you have a problem that needs immediate attention, such as trouble breathing, chest pain or unconsciousness. These problems could be signs of more serious conditions like pneumonia (dangerous bacterial infection in the lungs). Flu symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory illnesses, like colds and bronchitis (inflammation of the air passages in the lungs), so you might not be tested for flu.

10. Write down your symptoms on a large health chart or calendar that is easy to read from across the room. Check off each symptom as it goes away. If your illness continues or worsens see a doctor.