Your chances of catching the flu are fairly small.  The CDC says that the number of influenza cases in recent years has varied from 9 - 35 million cases per year in the USA, of whom 20,000-50,000 die.  So, in the worst case scenario, out of a USA population of 323 million, 10% will catch the flu -- and almost all (99.98%) will fully recover.

    Except for the elderly, dying from the flu is far less likely than dying in a traffic accident or being shot (those
over 65 comprise 90% of flu deaths).

    So, the following
tips will reduce your chances of getting the flu from 10%, down to vanishingly small.  And yet the first tip is almost never mentioned, despite probably being the most effective and obvious one.

    Ok, I know that almost no one in their right mind ever suggested this one, because no one can hold their breath long enough to avoid sucking it in when someone nearby coughs -- right?  Well, the record for holding one's breath is way above 5 minutes, and YOU only need to hold it long enough to move away from the cougher / sneezer, or at least let his/her sneeze particles slowly drift away and disperse from any proximity to your nose.

    The idea is to stop inhaling immediately -- in midstream -- upon hearing a nearby sneeze/cough.  That's because the spray of germs/virus travels at about 100 mph, and up to 26 feet (or more) away from the sneezer.
 And no one disputes that breathing in cough / sneeze droplets (Yuck! Yikes!) is a major source of spreading all sorts of ugly diseases (including colds, measles, SARS, chickenpox, and tuberculosis).

    Don't believe me, believe this:  "A good rule of thumb: if you see or hear someone sneeze nearby, hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds."

    This has TWO purposes:
    a) it keeps you from direct contact with doorknobs and hand railings and money, all of which are flush with the germs of others.  And just as important,

    b) it keeps you from then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, which we ordinarily do many times each hour -- and thereby infecting ourselves with whatever long-lived flu/cold germs have been left on surfaces by the sick, or even mostly-recovered victims of illness.

    Just because you have safely returned home after evading all the germs "out there", you aren't home free -- yet.  No doubt you had to remove those gloves on occasion to type on your computer, or get your car keys, or get some change, or shake someone's hand (else get fired), but at least you then put your gloves on again so you wouldn't forget and touch your eye/nose area.

    Anyway, despite all your best efforts, your hands probably have some germs (including those present on the mail you just picked up:  did you know that even mail carriers sometimes get the flu?).  So, before you rub those tired eyes, you need to scrub your hands with soap or hand sanitizer; a paper towel can be used for the scrubbing.  Hopefully, the whole family will show similar diligence.

    Masks would work wonders -- but mainly, if the coughers would wear them (they almost never do). Unfortunately, most masks
have limited utility because they are not air-tight, and they are inconvenient and uncomfortable, and they look bizarre in workplace settings, etc.   While they may do you some good, holding your breath is something you don't have to buy, and it's always available.  As is washing your hands often.  And wearing gloves.

    This season (2017-8), the vaccine is less effective.  See this and this, and then decide for yourself.  But whatever you decide, do the other things too because, taken together, they multiply any advantage the shot may provide.

    There already IS a law against Reckless Sneezing: it's called the "Golden Rule".  Or "Common Decency".  Ask anyone if it would be ok if some stranger with a contagious disease were to cough or sneeze on them or their children.  And after 100% of them replied how abominable and classless such a thing would be, half of them would then go out and cough/sneeze on or near someone ELSE'S children -- or the elderly, etc.

    This can often end up being the moral equivalent of assault or manslaughter, in which the victim(s) may be subject to severe illness or even possible death:  especially for children, pregnant women, and the elderly.   All because someone with either an exaggerated sense of entitlement, or who simply doesn't know any better, never learned this simple civility.

    The rule is, cough/sneeze into the "crook" of your raised elbow.  Or, into a handkerchief.  And preferably NOT into your bare hands, unless you intend to immediately go and wash them (without touching / contaminating doorknobs: good luck on that).

    Here's a great video in which a nurse demonstrates how to cough and cover, along with other great tips.

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