Preparation and Protection
How do people get H1N1?
- H1N1 is transmitted through droplets. You can become infected by the H1N1 virus when someone infected with H1N1 coughs or sneezes droplets near you and you take in the virus through your mouth, nose or eyes. You also can get the virus by touching a surface such as a countertop or doorknob that has become contaminated and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
What can I do to help prevent getting sick or spreading the flu to others?
- Wash hands frequently, 20 seconds each time.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Dry your hands thoroughly using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and turn the knob on the door handle.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cough into your sleeve or a tissue to avoid spreading germs. Do not cough into your hands.
- Put tissue in a wastebasket.
- Keep surfaces clean, especially those used by others such as telephones and keyboards. Choose liquid over bar soap.
- Avoid contact with people who are ill.
What can I do to help prevent getting sick when living with others who are ill?
- A person is considered contagious (able to pass the infection on to others) a day before symptoms start and for about seven days after symptoms begin. In general, the recommendation for the sick person is that he or she isolate themselves and avoid exposure to others for at least seven days after symptoms begin or for 24 hours after fever and symptoms subside without the aid of medicine, whichever is longer.
- If it is not possible to isolate the person who is ill, you may want to temporarily move to another location.
How long can the virus live on a countertop or other surface?
- The virus can live on hard surfaces approximately two to eight hours.
How should we prepare at home?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends stocking up on basics:
- Good items to have on hand include ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and soups; protein or fruit bars; dry cereal or granola; peanut butter or nuts; dried fruit; crackers; canned juices; bottled water; canned or jarred baby food and formula; and pet food.
- Health supplies might include prescription medicine, medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment; soap or alcohol-based hand wash; medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen; a thermometer; antidiarrhea medication; and vitamins.
- It's also suggested to maintain a supply of flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, a manual can opener, garbage bags, tissues, toilet paper and disposable diapers. The American Red Cross suggests collecting a supply of empty, rinsed, plastic soft drink bottles and caps that can be refilled with water at the point when they may be needed.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has additional helpful information online at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/?s_cid=swineFlu_outbreak_001