4 ways to protect your home and office from the flu

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Flu can take its toll on your health, but you can fight the virus by stopping the spread of germs at home and in the office. Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences Assistant Professor Neena Xavier, M.D., offers these tips to help you, your family and your colleagues strengthen your defenses this flu season.

  1. Clean and disinfect often-used items.

    Use soap and water to clean commonly touched surfaces and objects to kill germs and lower your chances of getting sick, Xavier said. Be sure to include your keyboard, mouse, countertops, doorknobs, toys, phones and faucet handles, which are likely homes to germs. Be careful when emptying wastebaskets and wash your hands afterward — tissues or other discarded waste can also carry germs.

  1. Use an EPA-approved cleaner.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a list of antimicrobial products effective for killing common pathogens, and Xavier recommends choosing one of those for disinfecting homes and offices.

    “Read the directions on how to use the product because different chemicals have different procedures on how many wipes are needed or how long to keep the surface wet — usually three to five minutes,” she says.

    It’s not necessary to clean surfaces every day, Xavier says — even though most studies show the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours; the harsh chemicals in cleaners can do more harm than good if they irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin or aggravate asthma.

  2. Clean linens with hot water.

    Don’t share towels or sheets with those who are sick without washing them first, Xavier says. Wash all linens in hot water to kill the germs.

  3. Protect yourself from those already sick.

    Now is not the time to share. At home, designate a separate bedroom and bathroom for a sick family member if possible, and plan to clean the room daily. Keep disposable facemasks available both at home and the office to protect yourself, family members or colleagues, especially those who have other medical conditions that can make them more susceptible to illness.

Get your flu shot for free

Email ehsoccmed@uab.edu or call 205-934-2487 to schedule a free flu vaccination in partnership with the School of Nursing. Just bring your ONE Card.