5 tips to prevent you from getting sick

It’s that time of year, the flu is spreading and I bet you don’t want it. Here are some tips to help you prevent getting sick this year.

Wash your hands

“No matter what line of work you’re in, if you come in contact with people who are contagious, you have to wash your hands over and over,” says Alan Pocinki, MD. Pocinki practices internal medicine at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC.

It sounds so simple, but soap and water are the constant companions of doctors and nurses. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It doesn’t matter if the water’s hot or cold — the very act of scrubbing will physically remove the germs.

Keep your surroundings clean
Arlington, VA, massage therapist Amanda Long asks clients to stay home if they feel bad. But to be safe, she sanitizes doorknobs and light switches between sessions. It’s a practice she swears by.

“My hyper-vigilance has paid off,” Long says. “I was sick more often when I worked in an office, where people pawed into shared candy dishes and generally just mingled in a crowded space without much attention to germs. Now that I don’t have sick days, I don’t get paid if I don’t work. And I know my job is to heal, not pass on a cold or the flu.”

Avoid getting close to sick people
Don’t shake their hands or get too close where they can cough on you, because chances are you could get sick from that.

Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
If you can’t get alcohol-based hand sanitizers just use soap and water. Sanitizer can kill cold and flu germs quicker and it’s more efficient.

Keep up a healthy lifestyle
“It’s important to look after your own health,” says Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Lexington, KY. “Do all the things we all should be doing on a daily basis anyway,” Hoven says. “Get adequate rest — which people underestimate — get good nutrition, don’t smoke, and keep your allergies controlled, because if they’re out of control, then your upper respiratory tree is already inflamed, which sets it up to more easily acquire a virus.”