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A New Year, a New Flu Season

The Red Cross has tips that can help you survive the season

In the United States, when cold weather appears, flu season begins. Reports across the country have found low flu activity thus far, but with the peak season typically in January or February experts are expecting activity to rise. The Red Cross has tips that can help you survive the season. The flu virus can spread from a cough, sneeze or even talking.

To avoid getting the flu, follow these prevention tips:

  • Get a flu shot every year. It’s not too late! Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize illness and death.
  • Practice good health habits to maintain your body’s resistance to infection by eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of fluids and getting a good night’s rest.
  • Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and water, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze with a tissue and minimizing contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Adopt business/school practices that also encourage employees/students to stay home when sick.
  • The flu is contagious, with the ability to infect others a day before symptoms appear and up to a week after becoming sick. Children may be contagious for an even longer period. Staying home will help protect those around you from the flu virus – at work, at school or at the grocery store.

    If someone in your home has the flu, follow these steps:

  • Designate one person as the caregiver.
  • Avoid sharing items such as pens, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless cleaned between uses.
  • Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
  • Wash everyone’s dishes using very hot water and soap.
  • Wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
  • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.
  • To learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season visit Preparedness Fast Facts.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.