With being in the midst of flu season and with H1N1 still looming, The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a plethora of information on things you can do if someone in your family gets sick.
If someone on your family does become infected with the flu, how can you protect yourself and other family members from getting sick?
Of course vaccination is the number one preventive measure available and the CDC reminds people that the window for getting the H1N1 vaccine is still open.
Starting Sunday, National Influenza Vaccination Week kicks off. It was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond.
What if someone in your family does get the flu? The CDC recommends if it’s possible for you to create a “sick room” to isolate your sick family member and protect the rest of the family.
Here are the steps and supplies needed for creating your “sick room” (adapted from the CDC web site):
• Try to give the sick person their own room. If there is more than one sick person, they can share the sick room if needed
• If you have more than one bathroom, have sick people use one bathroom and well people use the other one
• Give each sick person their own drinking glass, washcloth and towel
Have these items in the sick room
• Trash can with lid and lined with a plastic trash bag
• Alcohol-based hand rub
• Cooler or pitcher with ice and drinks
• Cup with straw or squeeze bottle to help with drinking
• Thermometer (with covers if used for more than one person)
• Facemasks (Sick people should wear a facemask if available when they leave the sick room or are around other people.)
Follow the Sick Room Rules
Protect well family members from getting the flu. If the sick person must leave the room to go to the bathroom or to the doctor, ask them to wear a facemask. No facemask at home? Ask the sick person to use a tissue to cover their coughs and sneezes.
Follow these four sick room rules:
1. Avoid having other people enter the sick room. The sick person should not have visitors other than the caregiver. If visitors must enter, they should stay at least 6 feet away from the sick person.
2. Cover coughs and sneezes. Ask the sick person to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough and sneeze. Ask them to throw used tissues in the trash.
3. Choose one caregiver. If you can, choose only one caregiver to take care of sick family members. If possible, ask someone else to be the caregiver if you are pregnant or have certain chronic health problems. If you get the flu, it could be much more serious for you.
4. Keep the air clean. Open a window in the sick room, if possible.
How to Clean the Sick Room
You’ll want to clean the sick room each day. Follow these tips:
Cleaning hard surfaces
• Clean surfaces that may have flu germs on them. These may include doorknobs, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, phones, and toys
• Clean these hard surfaces by using water and dish soap. Or use common household cleaners that kill germs
Cleaning bed linens and laundry
• Wash bed sheets and towels with normal laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot dryer setting. Hold all dirty laundry away from your face and body. Wash your hands right after touching dirty laundry
• It’s OK to wash the sick person’s bedding or clothes with other people’s laundry
Cleaning dishes — wash the sick person’s dishes with normal dish soap or place in the dishwasher
Tips for Caregivers – It’s Important for YOU to Stay Healthy
When caring for people who have the flu:
• Avoid being face-to-face with the sick person, and limit time with them if possible.
• When holding sick children, place their chin on your shoulder so they will not cough in your face
• Wash your hands often and the right way. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song two times or count slowly to 20 as you wash
• Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• Clean your hands after touching the sick person, their tissues or laundry