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Protect yourself during cold and flu season

Staff Report • Nov 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Go to any shopping center, church or movie theater this time of year and you will undoubtedly hear someone coughing or sneezing. It’s no wonder the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise Americans to be on the lookout for these telltale signs of the cold and flu season. It also recommends you cover your mouth when you cough, cover your nose when you sneeze and don’t forget to wash your hands when you do either.The No. 1 way flu and colds are spread is from person to person in the form of respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. This happens when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and are deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. Also keep in mind the CDC says some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks. There are some very simple things you can do to ward off these infectious droplets. The CDC recommends that you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — for 15 to 20 seconds.When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. These sanitizers do not need water to work since it is the alcohol in them that kills the germs on your hands.Be warned, however, that some hand sanitizers work better than others. Researchers have found that some sanitizers lack the alcohol concentration that health officials say is necessary to kill most harmful bacteria and viruses. Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away. If a tissue is not available, sneeze into your armpit so the germs will not transmit to the next thing you touch. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.It’s also a good idea to give your electronic gadgets a good cleaning periodically with a microfiber cloth to clear it of germs. You don’t want your iPad to get a virus.

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