For most of us, coming down with the flu means spending some miserable days being sick. In those cases, health officials say the best medicine is staying home and avoiding contact with others.
But that could expose the rest of your family. So what can be done to protect the healthy?
Try setting up a separate sick room. If there is more than one ill family member, have them share a space, if possible.
Stock the room with tissues, alcohol-based hand rubs, a thermometer and humidifier. Line the trash can with a plastic bag and make sure it has a lid.
You can also keep a cooler or pitcher with ice and drinks in the room, along with a cup and straw or a squeeze bottle to make drinking liquids easily accessible. Give each sick person a separate set of towels, too.
Be sure to store all medicines out of the reach of children. If you have more than one bathroom in the house, separating the sick from the well also could extend to having them use one bathroom, while the rest of the household uses the other one.
To more effectively shield healthy family members from those pesky germs, encourage the sick person to cover his or her nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, then disposing of it in the trash can. Another strategy is to designate one caregiver, and severely limit visitors.
Hard surfaces, linens, dishes and laundry in the sick room should be freshened on a daily basis. Go over surfaces such as doorknobs, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, counters with water and dish soap, or common household cleaners that kill germs.
A sick person's dishes can be washed with dish soap or placed in the dishwasher. Similarly, there is no need to separate out a sick person's laundry. Everything can be washed together.
Just follow your normal routine, and tumble dry on a hot setting. As you are loading the washer, hold the laundry away from your face and wash your hands immediately.
Dr. Brenda Hill, Ph.D., is an Extension Educator of Family and Consumer Sciences at Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, a division of Oklahoma State University.