How to Combat the Flu
Ways to fight off this year's bug your home.
Just in time for the chillier weather, flu season is here. According to the CDC, each year in the US, the flu causes an estimated 54,000 to 430,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 to 49,000 deaths, with infection rates highest among children. You know you should wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, but CNN has put together a helpful list of tips to stay bug free this year.
Break out that humidifier. Winter is a dry season. "A review of nearly 40 peer-reviewed studies conducted over the last decades shows that homes kept at 40-60% relative humidity are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces like sink faucets, door handles, and countertops," CNN writes.
Use UV lights
A germicidal type UV light can kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. You can shop for these online -- from low to high end. You want to aim these lights on surfaces like keyboards, a computer mouse, and other hand-held devices.
Surfaces aren't enough to keep clean. Think of the air as well. Since you're keeping the windows sealed and blasting the heat, the "stagnant, recycled air that can harbor airborne allergens and bacteria," CNN writes. Fight this with a portable air purifier that can remove harmful airborne germs. Look for ones with allergist-recommended HEPA filters.
Think beyond the kitchen countertop. Don't ignore the often-touched family tablet, TV remote, or doorknobs. Cleaning with good old soap and water is best. Also, your linens and towels -- with their porous surfaces that trap germs -- need to be washed too with household detergent in hot water and tumble dry on a hot setting.
Most importantly, we might add, get your flu shot
You need to get vaccinated every year -- not just for your own health, but for the safety of others. The flu vaccine for the 2013-14 year is now widely available. This year's vaccine offers better protection as it contains versions of the four influenza viruses that scientists have identified as the ones most likely to be circulating. Previous years’ vaccines only contained three versions of the virus.
Do you have other surefire ways to combat the flu?