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10 Swine Flu Safety Dos and Don’ts
1) Germ-proof your skin: Wash your hands well and often. Not every 10 minutes, but when it makes sense, like after using the bathroom, touching common objects at work—like the microwave or printer—or returning home from the grocery store. Use warm water and soap, and rub your hands together for about 20 seconds.
2) Pack Purell in your kid’s backpack: The classic germ-killer can be 99% effective in 20 seconds, says Cohen. Slathering it on throughout the day can minimize the chance that your child will transmit potential germs on his hands to his mouth and nose, where the virus enters the body. Keep a bottle in your purse too.
3) Keep your distance. “Critical closeness—less than 6 to 10 feet—is required to catch airborne viruses,” explains Cohen. That means avoiding close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing, but it doesn’t mean you should hole up at home and never go out in public until the swine flu passes.
4) Call the doctor if you think it’s flu. “Some people think everything that’s an infection is the flu, but there’s actually a very specific cluster of symptoms to worry about,” he says. These include:
Almost always: Fever, cough, muscle aches, and headaches
Sometimes: Runny nose, red eyes, nausea and vomiting
5) Take the right meds: Antivirals like Tamiflu will only help if you actually have the flu. They’re most effective in the first 2 days of illness onset, so if you have suspicious symptoms, call your doctor right away.
1) Skip public transportation or cancel air travel: “I think this is going overboard for right now,” says Cohen, despite VP Biden’s advice to the contrary. “Remember, at this point only .0001% of the population has swine flu.”
2) Keep your kid out of school. Schools with individual cases are being closed. If you live in a community or state with no instances of swine flu, there’s no need to keep your child home.