When Someone at Home
Has the Flu
Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus that spreads easily
from person to person. Flu causes headache, chills and
fever, cough or sore throat, and body aches. Some people
can become seriously ill if they get the flu.
The best way to prevent getting the flu
is to get the flu vaccine each fall. If the vaccine is not
available, there are still things you can do to reduce your risk
of getting sick, especially if someone in your household is sick
with the flu.
Recognize Flu Symptoms
Watch for these symptoms:
- Fever, chills
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches/pain
- Lack of energy
- Runny or stuffy nose
Unlike a cold, with symptoms that come
on gradually, flu usually hits all at once. Fever and
severe body aches are common. Call your health care
provider if you think someone in your family has the flu.
Information on treating many symptoms can be given over the
phone. If you think you have the flu, stay home, unless
you need medical care. In that case, wear a surgical or
procedure mask to avoid spreading germs.
Wash Your Hands
The germs that cause influenza spread
up to three feet when someone who has the flu coughs or sneezes.
You can even spread flu germs when you speak. If you
handle things the germs land on and then touch your eyes, nose
or mouth, the flue virus can easily enter your body. Was
your hands often to get rid of flu germs.
How To Clean Your Hands
- Wet your hands and apply liquid,
bar, or powder soap.
- Rub hands together vigorously to
make lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue for 20
seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy
Birthday" all the way through - twice!
- Rinse hands well under running
- Dry your hands using a paper towel
or air dryer.
- If possible, use your paper towel to
turn off the faucet.
If soap and water are not available,
use an alcohol-based wipe or hand gel.
Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face
Since you can't wash your hands all the
time, make a habit of not touching your face. Keep your
hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from
entering your body.
Clean and Disinfect Surfaces
Disinfecting surfaces will help kill
flu germs. Cleaning and disinfecting is not the same
thing. Cleaning removes germs. Disinfecting destroys
them. Cleaning with soap and water to remove dirt and most
of the germs is usually enough. But, when it comes to flu
germs, you will want to disinfect for an extra level of
Mix 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach into one
gallon of hot water to disinfect surfaces. Disinfect door
knobs, light switches, handles, telephones, toys and other
surfaces people frequently touch such a tabletops, counters and
chair backs. Don't let germs hang around on cleaning
cloths or towels, either. Choose paper towels that can be
thrown away OR cloth towels that will be laundered after one
Other Things to Do
When someone has the flue, keep
everyone's personal items separate. Avoid sharing
computers, pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food
and eating utensils. One person should be assigned to
provide care to the family member who is ill. It may help
for the caregiver to wear a mask when dealing with the person
who is ill.
- Wear disposable gloves when in
contact with or cleaning up body fluids or contaminated items
such as tissues. Wash your hands immediately after
removing your gloves.
- Use hot water for all laundry and
wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
Please Keep Your Germs to Yourself
Always cover your mouth and nose when
- Use a tissue instead of a cloth
- Place used tissues in the waste
basket and wash your hands right away.
- Don't use your bare hand to cover
your cough. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze
into your upper arm.
Boosting your immune system by eating
healthy foods, and getting enough rest and exercise can also
help protect you against the flu.
For more information, visit
Source: State of New York
Department of Health