How to prevent the spread of flu in your family

Published On: Jan 14 2014 10:18:35 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 15 2014 02:15:33 PM CST

Doctors encourage anyone with the flu to stay home from work or school, but many wonder how to keep it from spreading to the rest of their family. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Keck Hartman says the best way is to wash your hands frequently.

Have you ever thought of all the things you touch around your house? The things that could be holding on to flu germs, waiting for the next person to grab, and spreading influenza. "It's really taken off here in the community very quickly, just within the last ten days," said Hartman.

Eyewitness News took Dr. Hartman to the Sloan's house in Wichita to take a look at how easily the flu can move around a family. "Covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze is something you'll hear me barking at them quite a bit about, and then just really making sure that they wash their hands," said Chenay Sloan.

The Sloan family has all been vaccinated and are currently flu free, but if they were not we saw a few ways the flu could spread. Dr. Hartman says if germs from a mouth or nose transferred to a blanket and another person in the family had that blanket over their face, the virus could spread. "Hold those items away from your body. Put them in the washer and run them on the wash cycle," said Hartman.

The kids use tissues when blowing their nose, but mom then throws the tissue away for them. "It's okay to touch something that's contaminated, like a tissue, as long as you wash right afterwards," said Hartman.

The Sloan family knows the importance of washing their hands before handling food or setting the table, but what about before or after using the iPad or television remote? "It was really eye-opening because our everyday routine probably could use some extra hand-washing and cleaning and really just trying to prevent the spread of germs," said Chenay Sloan.

The family of five, with one more on the way, plans to stay flu free. But if they do not, Dr. Hartman says they an anyone who is contagious need to do their part to keep it from spreading to others. "Stay home, stay away from people, don't go to work, don't go to school, don't contribute to this outbreak we're having," said Hartman.

Hartman says using bleach wipes on household surfaces is ideal, but soap and water will also kill the flu virus.