Within America’s military, there is a never-ending emphasis on force readiness, which many associate with important things like equipment maintenance, training for personnel, and of course, the continued development of new, more advanced weapons platforms. However, from a logistical side, “readiness” means much more than ensuring our troops have the right gear and are trained in how to use them; it also means ensuring military personnel remain healthy enough to fight.

At home, we face similar challenges, and although we may not regularly use the words like “readiness” or “deployable” in our assessment of our own health and that of our loved ones, we are still left making these same types of observations.

“I can’t make it to work, my whole family is sick,” is the civilian equivalent of, “our unit is non-deployable because illness has crippled our combat effectiveness.”

This year, influenza, or the flu as it’s commonly referred to, has been particularly widespread — so much so that the Federal Government’s Center for Disease Control has issued warnings about infection rates in 49 states and Puerto Rico. To date, 30 children have died due to influenza infection this flu season, and the numbers are expected to continue to climb.

Of course, if there are no children or elderly people in your home, the flu is still cause for concern from a readiness standpoint. According to the CDC, more than 30% of people infected with the flu this year have required hospitalization for treatment.  Even if you were vaccinated, you run the risk of infection, as this year’s vaccine has proven ineffective at combating the particular strain of influenza crossing the country. Whether it’s staying healthy enough to keep the paychecks rolling in, or a prepper mindset pushing you to stay ready to do what has to be done in case of an emergency, being horizontal for a week of flu recovery, and potentially spreading the illness to others, isn’t something anyone wants to do.

So in the interest of maintaining a good level of readiness in your home (or just staying out of the hospital), here are some tips you can use to make sure you and your family aren’t negatively affected by this year’s particularly rough flu season, courtesy of the Center for Disease Control:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities (your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

It also helps to know the symptoms of the flu when you see them. Remember, if you suspect one of your family members is ill, it’s best to get them to a doctor. Although the flu is a viral infection, meaning antibiotics won’t help, there are antiviral medications that can help your body combat the influenza infection, getting you back on your feet sooner, and hopefully preventing you from joining that 30% of infected people who end up spending some time in a hospital bed.

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*Remember that not everyone that gets the flu will exhibit all of these symptoms. Fever, in particular, is not always present.