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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 10

Message From The Chief

“Employees must wash hands before returning to work.” We’ve all seen the sign. Hopefully, we are all heeding those words by practicing good hygiene and not just going through the motions with this and other cautionary steps towards staying healthy. September may have been National Preparedness Month but chances are, some folks still don’t have a plan for when the unexpected occurs. Preparedness isn’t just about being prepared for severe weather or other natural hazards. Let’s take a look at an example of another serious hazard whose season begins this month: the flu.

It’s a common misconception that cold weather causes people to become sick. But there’s a reason flu cases peak from November to January: the holidays. Think about it; the holiday season is when people most often gather. We are the best source for spreading flu germs by virtually coming into contact with everything we touch. Don’t be That Guy (or Gal) who gave unsuspecting guests at a party a dose of the flu. The best way to avoid getting sick is to get an annual flu vaccine shot. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over six months old get a flu shot, and get it early. Receiving a flu vaccination may reduce the severity and length of your illness if you do come down with the flu but it can also protect those around you who might be more vulnerable.

Other important steps you can take to protect yourself from the flu this season include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that can become contaminated with germs

If you do get the flu, stay home. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t go to work or school. Many people think they must “press on” and get the job done no matter how bad they feel. (More than likely, if you have the flu, your coworkers may not want you around them anyway.) If you must go out, avoid close contact with other people, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Influenza is a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death. The 2017 – 2018 season was considered the worst season in years. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, over 10,000 deaths occurred in Texas alone.

For a little perspective, 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Pandemic of 1918, when 5% of the world’s population, or 50 – 100 million people, died from influenza; half a billion were infected. Fortunately, things have improved since then.

This season, get your flu shot. Encourage your family and friends to get their flu shots. Learn and practice the steps from the web-links below to help protect yourself, your family, friends and coworkers. Take the time now to include flu vaccinations in your emergency preparedness plan.

25 Ways to Survive Cold and Flu Season
Prevent Seasonal Flu
How to Fight Flu This Season
Summary of the 2017 – 2018 Influenza Season


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