Preparing Yourself and Your Home Before Sickness Strikes

Dec. 19, 2023

As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, the arrival of the cold and flu season becomes inevitable. There are numerous proactive steps you can take to prepare both yourself and your home to minimize the risk of becoming sick. By implementing these measures, you can significantly increase your chances of staying healthy during the colder months. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following practices:  

1. Prioritize Personal Hygiene 

Maintaining good personal hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of cold and flu viruses. Here are some key practices to adopt:
  • Frequent Handwashing: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before meals, after using the restroom, and after being in public places.
  • Use Hand Sanitizer: Carry a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for times when soap and water aren't readily available.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face: Viruses can enter your body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Minimize touching your face to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Moisturize: Moisturize your skin and avoid baths or showers that are too hot, as these can remove the natural layer of oil that protects the skin's moisture. Consider using a humidifier in your home to prevent the harmful effects of dryness of the skin, nose, throat, and lips. 

2. Boost Your Immune System

Strengthening your immune system can help your body fight off viruses more effectively. Here's how:
  • Healthy Diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to keep your body hydrated and support your immune system.
  • Adequate Rest: Prioritize sleep and aim for 7-9 hours per night. Quality sleep is vital for a strong immune response.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in moderate exercise to improve immune function and overall health.

3. Prepare Your Home

Making your home an unwelcoming environment for viruses is essential. Consider the following steps:
  • Clean and Disinfect: Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, light switches, and electronic devices using disinfectants.
  • Stock Up on Medical Supplies: Ensure you have a stockpile of cold and flu essentials such as tissues, pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistamines.
  • Check for expired supplies: Safely discard any medications that are past their expiration date
  • Make sure you have clean water, electrolyte drinks, and broth in the home

4. Practice Social Etiquette

Minimize exposure to viruses by adopting certain social practices:
  • Stay Home When Sick: If you're feeling unwell, avoid going to work or social gatherings to prevent spreading the illness to others.
  • Cover Your Mouth and Nose: Use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of droplets.
  • Maintain Distance: Practice social distancing, when possible, especially in crowded places or around individuals exhibiting symptoms.

5. Get Vaccinated

Consider getting a flu vaccine every year as it's one of the most effective ways to prevent the flu. Consult your healthcare provider for the appropriate vaccination.

By implementing these measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling ill during the cold and flu season. However, if you do become sick, seek medical advice promptly, and follow guidelines provided by healthcare professionals to prevent the spread of illness to others. Taking proactive steps to prepare yourself and your home is the key to staying healthy and resilient during this season.

The following resources offer more information on how to stay healthy and prepare for illness:

  1. More information on healthy habits to protect against flu can be found on the Center for Disease Control website here
  2. The Center for Disease Control 2023-24 Flu Vaccine Update can be accessed here
  3. Information on where to get a free Flu shot can be found here on The Arizona Department of Health Services site