Handshakes can be dangerous during flu season. They serve as the main way flu-causing germs are spread, especially in places such as conventions, classes, and other large gatherings. Luckily, alternatives exist to the traditional greeting. Fist bumps and even high fives have been proven to significantly lower chances of catching the flu.
Lifehacker suggests on Oct. 12 that before greeting someone, explaining the following can help stave the circulation of the influenza virus: Handshakes are being traded for fist bumps as a way to prevent others from getting sick. It’s to the point and diplomatic. Even so, many will inevitably protest. The fist bump isn’t exactly a professional greeting. In most cases, fist bumping the boss, professor, or a new client is far from appropriate.
This might help: A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control showed that fist bumps and high fives decreased participants’ frequency of passing along bacteria. They reported that nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during handshakes in comparison with their alternatives.
In the case that fist bumps and high fives still do not fly, there are many other preventative measures available. Below follow five that will help keep the flu at bay.
Get the flu shot
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests getting the flu shot each season. Flu season can start as early as October and continue on into May. According to the CDC, the flu shot can protect recipients from catching the flu (while preventing others from catching it from said recipient). It can also, if nothing else, make the symptoms of the flu virus less taxing. One 2011-2012 study noted by the CDC reported a 71 to 77 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations when flu shots were used.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Often, germs are spread at the office via keyboards, doorknobs and in communal areas such as break rooms. Microbiology professor and researcher Charles Gerba reminds that “The hand is quicker than the sneeze in the spread of disease.” Viruses travel quickly and can inhabit 40 to 60 percent of building surfaces in the matter of a few hours. In other words, avoid giving them a lift to your respiratory system.
Handwashing: It’s good for you and those around you
Wash your hands: This should go without saying, but many shirk a preventative and hygienic measure that takes all of 20 seconds. According to the CDC, handwashing removes germs that could cause sickness. It also significantly decreases the chances of catching the flu and spreading bacteria to food and drinks.
Stay at home if you become sick
Toughing it out by heading to work or school will only make those around you sick, as well. In most cases, the flu is contagious starting from one day before symptoms develop and up to a week after getting sick. It is wise to stay home if someone is suffering from flu-like symptoms such as fever, the chills, fatigue, body aches, sore throat, and headache.
Don’t just blow your boogers all over everyone else
Do the vampire sneeze: Don’t use hands to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Doing so will increase the risk of getting others sick. Make it a habit to cough into the crook of an elbow as a way to prevent the spread of germs.