How to not get sick

(flickr | Morgan)

The flu is running rampant, stomach bugs are turning local bathrooms into chambers of horror, and common colds are for many uncommonly hard to get rid of. We all know people who are sick or just finished being sick, or we ourselves are sick. I don’t like getting sick, so I avoid it like the plague. I have here some really super simple tips for you to help keep me, you and your loved ones healthy.

Using the following precautions, I avoided the Great Norovirus Outbreak of 2014 in a local hotel where virtually everybody else fell ill. I did not wear gloves, and I was front-line for guest contact.

• Stay home. For the love of all that is sacred, if you’re sick, stay home. I can’t even believe I have to say this one. And if your child is sick, keep him or her home. I know there are those of us — plenty, even — who don’t have the luxury of skipping work when we are sick, or being home with our kids when they are sick. I also know there are plenty who have full availability of sick days and don’t use them so they can save them up and tack onto a vacation week, or because home is boring. I don’t want your pathogens all over my office, and I don’t want your kids getting other kids sick and keeping the disease cycle going. If you’re the boss, lead by example and stay home when you’re sick.


• Cough into your elbow. Sweet Baby Jesus, I saw a waitress sneezing and coughing into her hand then setting the tables without washing. Get used to this elbow-thing. Why? Because then you don’t touch things with a hand full of virus-rich goo, passing your germs around on surfaces other people can’t help but touch. Case in point: I bet you’ve never opened a door with the inside of your elbow.

• Wash your blankety-blank hands! If you are sick, wash your hands a LOT.  Wash them before you leave the house, while you’re nursing yourself in your house, after blowing your nose, when you are randomly passing a restroom with running water and a sink. If you are NOT sick, wash your hands immediately upon getting home, and yes, you also wash your hands when passing any old random restroom. This is the number one defense for all of us. No, it is not foolproof — you might pick up a can of soup at the supermarket that someone else gerbed and then wash your hands when you get home and then put the soup away and now there is the gerb again. Yuck. But we can’t wash our hands again then, because we are going for good and cautious, not OCD.

• Don’t touch your eyes and mouth. Your nose, believe it or not, is not so susceptible. Have an itchy eye? Grab a tissue first.

• Hand sanitizer? As long as it’s alcohol-based and at least 60 percent alcohol, it’s acceptable. What’s better? Washing your hands.

• Lysol (or whatever you prefer) on handles and doorknobs. Lysol the fridge handles, closet handles and doorknobs, inside and out. But don’t go crazy, don’t do this 10 times a day. Once a day, while being mindful of the other tips here, should just about do it.

Look, no one wants 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu outbreak — which infected half a billion people and may have killed as many as 50 million people — with a record-setting outbreak of our own. So follow these tips and save yourself, and the rest of us, an unhealthy amount of misery.