5 Ways to Protect Yourself from the Flu

With the outbreak of the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu), many people have grown increasingly worried about catching the virus, which has been confirmed in 279 people and resulting in 1 death. The virus has caused an incredulous spike in hand sanitizer sales. Businesses are running out of many brands of hand sanitizers and many producers of the product are trying to keep up with the demand.

With so many people relying on hand sanitizers, one has to ask why? Well, for starters they are portable and very convenient to use fitting in most bags and purses. They help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria that could lead to infections or illness, such as the flu. Furthermore, most hand sanitizers include certain ingredients that help to prevent skin dryness and irritation cause by the alcohol in the product.

However, some people still are not clear or are unaware of the limitations of hand sanitizers. Whenever you go to buy hand sanitizer always look at the concentration of alcohol to make sure it is somewhere between 60-95 percent. Any lower than 60 and the product will not be effective enough to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. Hand sanitizers are not soap and water, they are meant to be used with soap and water or only if soap and water cannot be found. Dirt and any other kinds of grime are not washed away by hand sanitizer and need to be wiped away.

There are, however, other preventative measures you can take to avoid catching or transferring the flu.

1. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

2. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

3. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

4. If you get the flu, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Though hand sanitizers are a good idea to have with you and use regularly, try not to rely on them and always wash your hands with soap and water whenever you can.

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