Flu: Recommendations for the Home

Influenza (“the flu”) is a sudden, respiratory disease that spreads easily. It is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, body aches, sore throat, headache and cough, and, in children, can also cause diarrhea and vomiting

  • Any family member suspected of having the flu should not attend work, school or daycare. Ill family members should be encouraged to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Wash hands frequently by using soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds (this is generally around the time it takes to sing the ABC’s). Dry hands with a disposable towel if possible. Towels should be changed frequently. Young children should be instructed and assisted to make sure they wash their hands properly. Bathrooms should be checked regularly to ensure that soap and towels are available for your family’s use.
  • Flu can be spread by coughs or sneezes. Family members should cover their mouths when coughing and use a disposable tissue when sneezing or blowing their noses. Tissues should be thrown away immediately, and then hands should be washed. (If you cannot wash hands, rub hands with an alcohol hand gel). Make sure tissues are available in the home and cars for runny noses and sneezing.
  • Encourage all members of your household, especially those with medical conditions and children between 6 and 59 months of age, to get a flu shot. It is never to late to be vaccinated.
  • Spread of the flu in homes is likely. Families should avoid sharing of saliva by not sharing glasses, forks, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Clean surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, kitchen table, etc., frequently with a household disinfectant or bleach solution. (Mixing ¼ cup bleach with 1 gallon of water makes a bleach solution). If disinfectant is not available hot water and soap can be used.
  • When caring for a family member who is ill, hands should be washed immediately after helping them.
  • If family members get the flu, especially if they are elderly or have other medical problems, you may wish to contact their physicians immediately. Their doctors may give antiviral drugs, which may decrease the spread and severity of the diseases. However, taking these drugs does not mean you do not need to get the flu shot.