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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Spreading Flu: Do You Know the Rules?

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Tips to Avoid Spreading or Catching the Flu continued...

3. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.

When you cough or sneeze, protect others from your germs by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Afterward, dispose of the tissue and wash your hands thoroughly to remove germs.

4. Wash your hands frequently throughout your day.

Hand washing is the most powerful way to prevent spreading flu germs. Alcohol-based hand disinfectants work great, too. If you have young children, be sure to teach them to wash their hands often with warm soapy water to slough germs off their hands. Provide alcohol-based hand disinfectants for teachers to use with children at school during flu season. Keep hand disinfectants in your desk and car, especially during flu season.

According to the CDC, findings indicate the human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces between two and eight hours. You should wash or disinfect your hands whenever you've touched something that an infected person might recently have touched: computer keyboards, telephone receivers, doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucet handles, countertops, railings, and so on.

5. Know the rules of washing your hands in a public restroom.

To make sure you get the fine art of hand washing when using a public restroom, here are the rules:

  • Run the water until it is warm.
  • Get a paper towel and hold it under one arm.
  • Put soap on your hands.
  • Rub your hands and fingers while singing Happy Birthday to You -- twice. Singing it once is not enough time to slough all germs from your hands.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly. Soap doesn't kill all the germs on your hands. But it does let them slide off under warm water.
  • Take the paper towel out from under your arm and use it to turn off the water. If necessary, use it to work the lever to get more paper towels.
  • Dry your hands. Don't throw the towel away yet; use it to open the door as you leave the bathroom.

6. Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, and eyes.

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