It seems practically impossible to escape from the cold and flu this time of year thanks to all of the sniffling coworkers, coughing kids and runny-nosed cashiers you encounter. But while you can’t avoid germs completely, you can find out when you need to take extra precautions with two new online tools. Use them and you’ll know when you need to be extra careful about keeping your hand sanitizer close.
WebMD Symptom Checker: Check out this interactive map to see if your neighborhood is reporting lots of flu symptoms. We took a look and WebMD reports that cold and flu symptoms in Michigan appear to be moderate, but that there are more severe patches in Lake, Montmorency, Luce and a few other counties. And don’t forget to identify symptom-heavy areas prior to holiday travel. Heading to sunny California? You’re probably in luck! But chilly Minnesota gets the short end of the winter stick with more severe ranges of cold and flu symptoms.
FluView Influenza-Like Illness Activity app: The CDC has created a mobile application that allows you to explore Influence-Like Illness (ILI) Activity Levels across the U.S., view trends over several weeks, and get on-demand access to state health department websites for local surveillance information. At the moment, the app is available only for iPhones, but the CDC website offers a wealth of weekly flu information for non-iPhone users.
So what do you do if you’re in a hot zone? WebMD also offers simpler ways to stay healthy:
- Be strict about washing your hands. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure you’re washing them for enough time.
- Stock up on sanitizers. Make sure your hand sanitizer is at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Switch to paper goods. Toss napkins and paper towels after one use and you’ll be less likely to swap germs.
You can find the full list from WebMD here.
What’s your go-to trick to evade seasonal sicknesses?