How To Care for Those Sick with Flu

Flu Season
Wash Your Hands As Often As You Can

Health officials report most of the country is battling a widespread outbreak of the flu and are urging people to get vaccinated now if they haven’t already done so.

With so many people sick, the American Red Cross has steps people should take if they are caring for someone who has the flu.

The flu virus spreads from person-to-person in droplets of coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread if a person touches droplets on another person or object and then touches their own mouth or nose before washing their hands. To prevent the spread of the flu virus, it is important to remember to wash your hands and cover your cough or sneeze.

WASH YOUR HANDS Washing hands properly is an important step to avoid getting the flu.For visibly soiled hands, first wash with soap and warm water. When using soap and water:

  • Wash for at least 20 seconds, covering the entire hand including fingernails and under jewelry.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
  • Use the towel to turn off the faucet.
  • If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
  • Rub thoroughly over the entire hand, including nail areas and between the fingers.
  • Continue to rub until the product dries.
  • SNEEZING AND COUGHING If someone has to cough or sneeze, they should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue and wash their hands afterwards. If they don’t have a tissue, they should cough or sneeze into their elbow or upper arm, not their hands.

    TAKING CARE OF THE SICK If caring for someone who has the flu, people should:

  • Disinfect door knobs, switches, handles, toys and other surfaces that everyone touches.
  • Use detergent and very hot water to do dishes and wash clothes. It’s okay to wash everyone’s dishes and clothes together. They should wash their hands after handling dirty laundry.
  • Designate only one adult as the caregiver. People at increased risk of severe illness from the flu should not be caregivers.
  • Deal with crisis situations calmly and confidently to give the best support to the person being cared for.
  • Remember their own needs as well. Practice healthy habits. Eat a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water. Get regular exercise. Get enough sleep and rest.
  • If someone is ill, they should:

  • Stay in a room separate from common areas of the home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.
  • Stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without using medicine to reduce the fever. 
  • Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. 
  • Consider wearing a facemask, if available and tolerable, when sharing common spaces with household members.
  • Check with their healthcare provider about whether they should take antiviral medication, or if fever persists, whether antibiotics are needed.
  • Information on what to do if someone has the flu is available as part of the free Red Cross First Aid mobile app available for iPhone and Android devices.You can find more information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected by visiting redcross.org/FluTips.

    Tags: Flu.
    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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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