Did you know that the flu virus can live on a hard surface — such as a door knob, keyboard, TV remote, telephone, pen, gym equipment, chip bowl, arm rest, gas pump, ATM, elevator button, etc. — for up to eight hours? Or that the flu virus can live on paper money for up to 17 days?
Think about how many of those items you touch in a single day. Now consider one of them – say a gas pump — and imagine: How many other people have touched that same gas pump in the past eight hours?
It’s enough to make a hypochondriac have an anxiety attack; or to make a non-hypochondriac consider becoming a germophobe.
Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Get a flu vaccine: Not only does it protect you, but it helps stop the virus from circulating in your community.
- Wash and sanitize your hands often: Always before eating, and always after being in a public place where many people have touched the same surfaces as you.
- Use elbows or the backs of hands to open doors or touch common areas in public places. Better yet, if you’re leaving a restroom, use a paper towel, then discard it.
- Keep your hands away from your face: Many of us unconsciously touch our faces throughout the day, which is giving germs a fast track into your body.
- Eat right and stay rested: Give your immune system a chance to stay ahead of the game with a balanced diet and between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
- Encourage co-workers to stay home if they feel sick: Many people come in because they feel an unspoken pressure to come to work even when they’re under the weather. If we start saying it’s OK to work from home or take a sick day to contain germs, you can stop the spread within your office.
So why exactly is it important to protect yourself against the flu?
First, keep in mind that the flu is not simply a “bad cold” or anything related to the stomach. It’s something altogether different — and far more serious.
Need proof? Here are some staggering numbers, compliments of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and www.flu.gov:
- More than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized and thousands die every year from the influenza virus.
- During the 2014-2015 flu season, 145 pediatric deaths were reported from 40 states; that number is typically closer to 100.
- Eight pediatric deaths occurred in Nevada during the 2014-2015 flu season.
- Flu causes 38 million lost school days and 111 million lost workdays a year, resulting in more than $7 billion in lost wages.
- About 20,000 children under 5 are hospitalized each year from the flu.
- The median age of children who died from the flu virus from January 2014-June 2015 was 5.9 years old.
In summary: You can get the flu from touching something as common as an elevator button, an escalator handle or the door heading into work.
And that simple touch of a button, handle or door can give you something so serious, it can kill you.
Protect yourself and those you love: Get the flu vaccine today.
And stock up on hand sanitizer. Lots and LOTS of hand sanitizer…