sickHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently appeared on NBC’s Today Show. She spoke frankly and said a “plausible scenario” for the United States is a wide-scale flu infection this season, warning of 30,000-90,000 deaths and as many as 300,000 people requiring intensive care treatment at hospitals.

Are you ready for flu season? Are you prepared if the flu virus gets jiggy with your body?

Granted, media hype can blow just about anything out of proportion. Considering this is a fair bit more serious than the Jon & Kate situation, however, it is wise to take a few preventative steps in preparation for the fast-approaching flu season.

  1. Get vaccinated
    Time to get over your “But I hate shots!” whining and ranting. Educate yourself on available vaccinations, talk with your doctor, and view the CDC website. They have vaccination information here.

  2. Wash your hands and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    Giving high-fives should be a safe and friendly sport. I used to think only crazed soccer moms carried hand sanitizer in their purses. Not anymore. You don’t have to belong to the Church of Purell; keeping your hands clean is a must, however, to avoid the transmission of nasty germs. Also keep in mind that you should sneeze into a Kleenex, not directly into your hands.
  3. Don’t touch your face.
    The virus enters the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.

  4. Take vitamins, eat healthy, exercise, and reduce stress.
    Easier said than done but try your hardest to act upon these goals if they’ll possibly keep you from staring down at the bottom of a toilet bowl later this year (if anything it’s a good excuse not to return your mother’s voicemail until April). There are a number of natural health preventions as well. Talk to your doctor or visit a natural foods store.
  5. Enjoy time in a sauna a couple times a week.
    The steam and heat can supposedly kill off viruses (if it’s over 80 degrees).

  6. Enjoy time outdoors.
    Ever been on a plane when multiple people are sick? It’s miserable. Get outside, even when it’s annoyingly cold. Give yourself old-fashioned rosy pink cheeks. Staying cooped up indoors circulates germs.
  7. Keep tissues, electrolyte drinks, household cleaners, soft foods and other items on hand.
    No doubt the flu can spread like rabbits. If you come down with the flu, quarantine yourself with a stash of Will Ferrell movies to prevent the spread of the virus. Try not to use items that are hard to disinfect once the virus has run its course (such as your laptop). In any case, chances are you won’t want to haul yourself out to the 24-hour s-c-a-r-y Walgreens on Lake Street just to stock up on toilet paper and pudding cups. Not to mention few things feel worse than when you’re sweaty and yellow-green, lying half dead on the couch and someone has to actually see you to drop off orange Gatorade. Gross.

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Written on 9/05/2009 by Emily Steffel. Emily is a senior writer for a Minneapolis-based law firm. Find her on Twitter at twitter.com/esteffel. Also find her in aisle C3 at Target, next to the hand sanitizers. Photo Credit: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha



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