Flu sea­son: How to keep your home germ-free

Lesotho Times - - Property -

THE tell-tale sounds of win­ter are in the air, and along with the cold chill, there’s a com­ple­ment of cough­ing, sneez­ing and snif­fling.

Try­ing to avoid catch­ing the flu takes a lot of ef­fort on your part — you con­stantly wash your hands, keep a safe dis­tance from any­one who is sick, avoid touch­ing your eyes, nose and mouth, and carry an arse­nal of germ-killing hand sani­tiser.

While all these steps are important, one more step is nec­es­sary in the on­go­ing bat­tle against flu, and that in­volves get­ting rid of flu germs that lurk on sur­faces through­out your house.

De­velop a bat­tle strat­egy While get­ting the flu vac­cine ev­ery year is the first line of de­fense against catch­ing the in­fluenza virus, there are other pre­ven­tive clean­ing steps you can take to en­sure you stay as healthy as pos­si­ble this win­ter.

The fol­low­ing clean­ing list is also ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing other viruses that are not cov­ered by the flu vac­cine such as cold and stom­ach viruses.

The in­fluenza A and B viruses can live and sur­vive on house­hold sur­faces - from any­thing from a few hours to sev­eral days. That means that it pays to be ex­tra vig­i­lant when it comes to clean­ing and dis­in­fect­ing your home dur­ing flu sea­son.

Here’s how to win the bat­tle

1. When it comes to zap­ping flu germs, home­own­ers should dis­in­fect sur­faces, not just clean them. Clean­ing phys­i­cally re­moves dirt and germs, while dis­in­fect­ing kills the germs.

2. It’s important to ramp up your dis­in­fect­ing rou­tine dur­ing the flu sea­son — even be­fore some­one in your home comes down with the flu. That’s be­cause, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion (CDC), peo­ple may be able to spread flu germs to other peo­ple one day be­fore com­ing down with any symp­toms.

More­over, it’s also important to note that the flu con­tin­ues to be con­ta­gious five to seven days af­ter you be­come sick.

3. When it comes to dis­in­fect­ing your house, clean the sur­faces first to re­move ex­cess dirt, crumbs, etc. Once that’s done, fol­low through by dis­in­fect­ing your sur­faces.

4. When clean­ing sur­faces touched by a sick per­son, al­ways use dis­pos­able pa­per tow­els in­stead of sponges and dish­cloths.

5. Com­mon sur­faces like door­knobs, light switches, re­mote con­trols, cab­i­net pulls, and elec­tronic de­vices need to be dis­in­fected reg­u­larly.

6. Clean and dis­in­fect bath­room sur­faces daily. Don’t ne­glect for­got­ten ar­eas like the toi­let han­dle and medicine cab­i­net door or han­dle.

7. Avoid stor­ing tooth­brushes to­gether and don’t use the same tooth­paste as some­one who has been sick. 8. Use pa­per tow­els or as­sign each fam­ily mem­ber their own hand towel to use af­ter wash­ing their hands in the bath­room.

9. Laun­der bed linen and blan­kets of­ten dur­ing the win­ter months. Home­own­ers should pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to sheets that have been ex­posed to sick fam­ily mem­bers. These should be washed and dried on the hot set­ting.

When re­mov­ing soiled linen, avoid hav­ing them come in con­tact with your cloth­ing.

Hug­ging a heap of laun­dry close to your body puts you at a higher risk for con­tam­i­na­tion.

Don’t for­get to wash your hands im­me­di­ately af­ter han­dling dirty laun­dry. 10. If a mem­ber of your house­hold has the flu, try to con­tain them to one room, as far away from the com­mon liv­ing ar­eas as pos­si­ble. The same goes for bath­rooms. If pos­si­ble, des­ig­nate one bath­room to be used by the sick per­son. It’ll be eas­ier to stay on top of the germs if they’re con­fined to one area.

11. Rou­tinely wash eat­ing uten­sils in a dish­washer or by hand with soap and hot water. Wash and dry bed sheets, tow­els and other linen as you nor­mally do with house­hold laun­dry soap, ac­cord­ing to the fab­ric la­bels.

Eat­ing uten­sils, dishes and linen used by a sick per­son don’t need to be cleaned sep­a­rately, but they should not be shared un­less they’ve been washed thor­oughly.

There’s no need to panic this flu sea­son. By rou­tinely dis­in­fect­ing ar­eas in your house, you can help keep the germs to a min­i­mum.

Keep­ing your home flu-free takes ex­tra work on your part, but it’s worth it.

Keep your home germ-free Win­ter is quickly ap­proach­ing and along with the cold tem­per­a­tures, it brings with it an un­wel­come guest, the flu.

Don’t sit back and wait for the in­evitable to hap­pen, take a proac­tive ap­proach to flu preven­tion.

Be­sides cov­er­ing your mouth when you sneeze and cough, wash­ing your hands of­ten and stay­ing clear of any­one who is sick will slow the spread of flu.

As men­tioned, dis­in­fect­ing and sani­tis­ing sur­faces will kill the germs, but to do this, you’ll need a dis­in­fec­tant. Here’s how to make and use your own home sani­tiser:

1. Add 1 ta­ble­spoon of bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) of water.

For a big­ger sup­ply of dis­in­fec­tant, add ¼ cup of bleach to 1 gal­lon (16 cups) of water.

2. Ap­ply the so­lu­tion to the sur­face with a cloth.

3. Let it stand for 3 to 5 min­utes. 4. Rinse the sur­face with clean water.

Ques­tions to ask when dis­in­fect­ing your home this flu sea­son

1. How can I tell if a house­hold clean­ing prod­uct kills germs?

Look for the words dis­in­fect, dis­in­fec­tants, an­tibac­te­rial or sani­tise on the prod­uct la­bel.

2. How many bac­te­ria does it take to make peo­ple sick?

It’s dif­fi­cult to provide the ex­act num­ber. To min­imise the risk of get­ting sick, wash your hands fre­quently and dis­in­fect sur­faces on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

3. What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween plain and an­tibac­te­rial soap used in the home?

An­tibac­te­rial soaps con­tain a spe­cial in­gre­di­ent for con­trol­ling germs. When wash­ing with an an­tibac­te­rial soap, a small amount of an­tibac­te­rial in­gre­di­ent is de­posited on the skin that keeps the num­ber of germs at a sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced level for an ex­tended pe­riod of time.

Wash­ing with plain soap ini­tially re­moves some germs, but the germs left on the hands can quickly grow and in­crease in num­ber.

When it comes to zap­ping flu germs, home­own­ers should dis­in­fect sur­faces, not just clean them.

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