The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported a spike in flu cases for 2019-2020. How do you avoid getting sick? Well, you can get the flu shot. If not—and even if you do—here are seven other science-approved strategies to follow.
1) Use the 20-second hand-washing rule, and don’t forget your fingernails and the backs of your hands. If you can’t spare 20 seconds, at the very least wash for five seconds—it’s not as effective, but it’s better than nothing.
2) Don’t touch your face excessively. Touching a surface covered in germs is only a problem if you then touch your face; specifically, the openings in your face. Flu and cold viruses only get into your body through mucus membranes, usually the ones in the eyes, nose, and mouth.
3) Shacked up with someone who has the flu? Break up with them and move out. Alternatively, clean frequently-touched, shared surfaces once a day. In general, run-of-the-mill flu viruses can survive without a host for 24 hours on metal, plastic, fabrics, paper, and glass.
4) Assuming you’re not willing to wear a surgical mask, or shun human contact altogether, avoid, if possible, close contact with someone who is coughing and sneezing. Most viruses can be spread by airborne droplets at a distance of three feet; recent research even says the flu can be transmitted by breathing alone!
5) Use a humidifier. Dry air is the enemy in cold and flu season. If anything in your body that is supposed to be wet—eyes, nose, lungs—is dry, it’ll offer less protection from bacteria and viruses. When your mucus membranes are helpfully slimy, they trap airborne pollutants and microbes of all kinds and keep them from invading your system. Thanks, mucus!
6) Boosting your immune system naturally through food (green vegetables, fibre), exercise, and plenty of sleep probably won’t kick a cold or flu, but it is useful in preventing infection.
7) Go to the cottage! Here’s why time in nature makes you healthier. It’s also, you know, fun.