Flu Precautions

Flu precautions are quite simple to implement. You can use the same infection control practices that people should follow on a daily basis to prevent catching colds and infections of every kind to help prevent the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, each year in the United States, approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu, and complications from flu infection is responsible for 36,000 deaths annually.

Wash Your Hands

One of the simplest flu precautions you can do to help prevent catching and spreading the flu is to wash your hands. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health advises that you wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and water. You should wash your hands for at least 10 to 15 seconds with soap and running water before and after you eat or drink, after using the restroom, and, preferably, after you cough or sneeze. Even if you are coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your inner elbow, you should still clean your hands as soon as possible.

Try to remember to keep your hands away from your face. On a regular basis, your hands come in contact with multiple surfaces that are contaminated with hordes of germs. If you cannot wash your hands as frequently as you would like to, keep an alcohol-based hand gel nearby.

Cover Your Mouth and Nose

When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with either your hand or a tissue. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends coughing or sneezing into your inner elbow. However, for many people, using a disposable tissue is preferable. Follow up this action with hand washing or sanitizing with hand gel.


Clean your home and work space on a regular basis; this means washing, dusting and providing for adequate ventilation. Fresh air, sunlight and reduction of allergens, like dust, can help prevent the occurrence of infection. Highly used surfaces harbor lots of germs, so clean your phone, your work space (including your computer keyboard and mouse), door handles, countertops and refrigerator handles. Cleaners that contain alcohol or bleach work well. Do not forget to clean your kid’s toys, especially those he shares with other children.

Avoid Crowds

During flu season, it is probably best to avoid crowds. Airports and schools are prime locations to contract illnesses, but you cannot always avoid these places. Try to keep a buffer zone between you and other people; a space of about 3 to 6 feet can help protect you from other people when they cough or sneeze.

Flu Vaccine

The CDC recommends getting your annual flu vaccine. This flu precaution is especially important for people who work in the health care industry; who assume care for young children, the elderly and those who are immunocomprised; and who are themselves immunocompromised.

About this Author

Patricia Nevins is a registered nurse with nearly 20 years of nursing experience. She obtained her Master of Science in nursing with a focus in education from the University of Phoenix. Nevins shares her passion for healthy living through her roles as educator, nursing consultant and writer.