How to Protect Yourself From H1N1 Swine Flu ?

As the swine flu sweeps the world we are all concerned with protecting ourselves and our families from contracting this virus. There are many ways that we can be pro-active and protect ourselves and families. First we must understand how the virus is spread. Whenever a person who has the virus coughs, sneezes, spits, blows their nose or even talks and laughs the virus escapes their body in their respiratory secretions. It is spread by droplet infection. That means that the tiny droplets of moisture from their mouth and nose escape and carry the virus with them. These droplets in the air are then breathed in by others or land on surfaces and the virus is there, waiting for a victim. Once the virus enters another person's system it must fight that person's immune system[Image] to cause illness. Since this is a new virus strain, people do not have immunity to it and our immune systems frequently fight a losing battle and the the newly infected person becomes ill. There is currently no vaccine in the world that can be taken to prevent contracting this virus once it has entered your body. It will take several months to develop a vaccine. To avoid contracting the illness, we must break the chain of infection and contamination. So, what can we do to break that chain. Here are some simple steps we can all take to keep that virus away.

  1. Step 1

    Remember the six foot rule. If you are within six feet of a person who is infected you are at risk. Since you do not know who is infected and they may not know that they are infected it makes sense to take precautions when you will be in close proximity to others. One precaution you can take is to wear a mask. A mask will stop and catch the droplets in the air and prevent you from inhaling the viral particles. However, it is important to remember that a mask will only be effective for about 15 minutes before the vapor from your breath saturates it and it then becomes a moist conduit for the virus. It is also imperative that you remember that a used mask is contaminated and should be disposed of properly. Do not stick it in your pocket and save it for later. Throw it away.

  2. Step 2

    Next lets look at what happens to those droplets in the air if they are not inhaled by another person. Being heavier than air they sink and settle wherever they land and there they wait. If you touch the surface where they are waiting the virus will happily jump on your hand. If you touch your face with that hand the virus will then be on your face, waiting for the opportunity to enter your eyes, your mouth or your nose. It is therefore important to keep your hands off your face and out of your mouth, eyes or nose.

  3. Step 3

    You will be touching surfaces that other people have touched. Think about it. Door knobs, doors, shopping carts, ATM machines, merchandise, money, produce and other groceries, are all things you touch everyday. Some of them are even moist. They are wonderful incubators for the virus. One of the most important things you can do is to wash your hands frequently and use an alcohol gel based hand sanitizer[Image] frequently throughout the day. This can not be emphasized enough. This is probably the most important thing you can do to break the chain. Some people will choose to wear gloves when in an environment where they will be touching many things. That is ok. Just throw the gloves away and wash up or use hand sanitizer when you remove them.

  4. Step 4

    Remember not to touch your face while wearing your contaminated gloves or after touching non sanitized or public surfaces.

  5. Step 5

    Lets talk about public restrooms. Imagine for a moment that you have bright red sticky paint on your hands and that it will leave a red mark on everything you touch while you are in the restroom. Now trace your path in the restroom. Is there a door you must open to get in? There is the stall door and lock. The hand rail in the stall. The flushing mechanism. Many people use their foot to flush. But then you have to unlock the stall door to get out of the stall. But you think you will be washing your hands so it is ok. You go to the sink and turn on the water, wash your hands using soap from the dispenser which you also touch and turn off the water. But wait. The handle to turn off the water is red. If you touch it with your now clean hand your hand will be red again. How can you turn off the water without contaminating your hand? Actually, the one item with the highest germ count in the entire bathroom is the handle on the sink. Use a paper towel to protect your hand while you turn off the water.

  6. Step 6

    When you have exited the restroom, use your hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

  7. Step 7

    Consider not shaking hands with others, or giving those little hugs and kisses. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands if you must shake hands with people.

  8. Step 8

    Remember those little droplets full of viral particles? They are heavier than air and they settle on surfaces. And what surface ultimately catches the most? The floor. Every particle that does not stick somewhere will eventually settle out of the air onto the floor and you walk on the floor and pick up those particles on your shoes. That means your shoes frequently carry a heavy viral load. There are several ways to deal with this. You can spray your shoes with a disinfectant before you enter your car or home. Another method is to keep clean shoes and remove and bag your contaminated shoes before entering your home. Then, of course, you must disinfect your shoes. The important thing is to think about it and don't just leave your contaminated shoes laying around anywhere for children to touch or where them on the floor where children crawl or play. And remember that the floor in public places is contaminated.... and so is anything that falls on it.

  9. Step 9

    Now that you know how this virus gets around, think about the things you do and consider where you go and what you touch. Teach your children and other family members. You can seriously reduce your chances of catching this disease.

  10. Step 10

    If you do develop symptoms of the flu contact your health care provider immediately. There are medications that can help your body fight the virus. These medications must be taken during the first 48 hours of infection.