Saturday, October 31, 2009

Avoid Catching The Flu From Someone In Your Home

When someone in your home has influenza, the odds are pretty good that others in the house will develop the disease. A pandemic flu is so easily passed from one person to another that precautions can cut the risk of exposure somewhat, but the reality is that someone else will likely be infected.

The following are steps to take when someone in the home is exhibiting signs of pandemic influenza:

A person exhibiting flu symptoms should immediately go to bed in an isolated area of the home. The sick room should be avoided except by the person caring for the ill. If more than one person has the flu, they should share the sick room. Move in extra beds or cots, if necessary. Under no circumstances should sick individuals be spread throughout the house.

If windows can be opened, please do this. Fresh air is important, as is natural light, if possible.

The less items in a sickroom, the less there is to disinfect. Remove all unneeded furniture and items from the room, even the curtains, if feasible.

Use disposable plates, cups and utensils for the patient. This keeps infected items out of the kitchen.

Visitors are strictly off-limits. Even if the patient is feeling better, the only person allowed in the sickroom should be the caregiver. The patient may still be infectious, and a patient with a pandemic flu will often relapse, even after several weeks. Keep the patient in bed and isolated for three weeks, if possible, if he/she has a pandemic influenza.

Never use a vacuum cleaner with a sick person in the home. This stirs up the air and propels the virus, not to mention that conventional vacuum cleaners harbor all sorts of bacteria.

Always wear latex gloves and, preferably, a NIOSH-certified half-face respirator with safety goggles when in the sickroom or around laundry or waste from the sickroom.

Unscented bleach will become your friend when caring for a flu victim. Mix up a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 quart water each day in a bucket. At least once per day wipe hard surfaces in the sickroom with the solution, using a paper towel. Discard the paper towel in the sickroom trash bag. This process will effectively kill the bacteria. Do it often. Don’t forget telephones and television remotes. Wipe the surfaces in the kitchen and laundry room daily and the other areas of your home whenever you can. Mix up a bucket of solution each day, as the bleach solution loses effectiveness very quickly.

Some little-known areas that tend to collect and harbor bacteria are your door mat, the soft, rubber area around the top of your garbage disposal, your telephone, any countertop and your car’s door handles, dashboard and console. Introduce these to your bleach solution during a threat of flu. Be careful that the bleach doesn’t damage anything in your car. Test in a small area first.

Keep the ill person’s laundry completely separate from the other household laundry. Use strong kitchen trash bags to store the soiled laundry and keep in the sickroom until ready to launder. Tie the bags tightly. Wash the laundry in hot water and use bleach, if possible. Outside drying in the sun in preferable to machine drying, but either will do. Never forget to wear latex gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly after removing the gloves.
The key to surviving a deadly flu pandemic and protecting your family is knowledge. Knowledge is power, and you will need to know how to react when others around you may be panicking. Become a flu expert now, before the flu pandemic turns into a killer.

There is no substitute for good medical advice from a physician. Always consult your doctor, if possible, and follow his/her advice.

This information was taken from the book How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic by Debra West, available at or -

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