As the holiday season fills with family gatherings, travel and potluck parties, it is important to be extra attentive to avoiding germs.
In addition to getting a flu shot, there are a number of other ways to prevent illness. Candace Hsieh, RN, CIC, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Patient Safety, offers some tips for staying healthy and reducing the chance for infection:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and hot water – Remember to wash your hands (or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer) after touching door handles, shared keyboards, or elevator buttons. More tips on proper hand washing here.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth – This is the number one way people catch viruses. When you’re out doing your holiday shopping, remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching a cart or basket.
3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
4. Have the flu? Stay home – Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care. Do not go to work while you are sick and avoid contact with others as much as possible.
5. If you are sick, do not prepare food – ‘Tis the season for holiday parties, but if you have a gastrointestinal (or flu-like) illness, do not prepare food for at least three days. To avoid spreading germs, you can also consider pre-made or catered items for your holiday party.
6. Drink lots of water – Staying hydrated is important to staying healthy.
7. Get plenty of sleep – Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system or slow your recovery if you are already sick.
For more health tips and information on flu shots, visit Dana-Farber’s flu prevention page.