If you haven't had the flu this season, you probably know someone who has. So what can you do to protect yourself, aside from getting the flu shot?
We asked MetroHealth infectious disease specialist, Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan to be our verify expert when it comes to protecting a household during a flu outbreak.
Should you quarantine a sick person?
Yes, if you have the room, it's a good idea to isolate the infected to one room and one bathroom. It reduces exposure to the rest of the family, especially when those infected sneezes can spread six feet or more.
Does disinfecting surfaces really kill germs?
Yes, the flu virus can live up to 24 hours on hard surfaces. Using a disinfecting wipe on commonly touched surfaces like door knobs, faucets, remote controls and counters is a solid idea. The trick is to wipe the surface so it remains wet with disinfectant for four minutes and then let dry.
Can I just use a sponge?
No, we verified sponges or non-disposable towels can transfer germs to other surfaces if not properly disinfected in between. Wipes or paper towels are best.
Can I get flu by touching a towel?
Yes. Never share hand or bath towels with sick person. We verified using paper towels can help prevent germ spread. Use disposable cups and isolate the toothbrush of the sick person too.
Can the waste basket spread flu?
Yes. Use a waste basket to catch all those used tissues. Line it with a grocery bag and empty once a day, being careful not to touch the contents. If there's vomit, disinfect the can by rinsing it well, then put a half cup of bleach and three quarters gallon of water. Let it sit for a few minutes then rinse and let dry.
Does fresh air matter?
Yes, we verified fresh air can remove germs so if the weather allows, open the windows and air out the sick room as often as possible.
Can my laundry make me sick?
Yes, it's verified laundry can spread germs too so don't hug the sick person's clothes, bedding or towels when taking them to wash. Use a laundry basket and either wash your hands afterward or use disposable gloves before touching them.
And don't forget to disinfect your washing machine. Run an empty cycle of hot water and add bleach to the dispenser. Then run another cycle to make sure bleach is gone. Leave lid or door open to air out.
And thanks to Dr. Hanrahan, all these tips are verified.
One last thing: Do those medical masks really work? Yes they do. In fact, most hospitals require people with respiratory ailments this time of year to wear them to prevent the spread of flu or prevent them from contracting it.