Home » Managing Illnesses » 6 Simple Tips for Preventing Coughs, Colds, and the Flu
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Kim Allain

Director – Education, IPAC

Fall is a wonderful time of year — the air becomes crisp, leaves take on the perfect autumn hue, and we pull out our favourite sweaters. Not as enjoyable is the arrival of flu season.

Did you know that, on average, 12,000 Canadians are admitted to the hospital for flu-related illnesses each year? Flu season typically starts in late fall, so now is an opportune time to reinforce key tips about how to protect yourself from getting and spreading colds and the flu.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses that enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth. This happens when someone who is ill sneezes or coughs and the droplets are transferred into our body directly, or after touching something that has been contaminated.

There are easy ways that we can prevent getting sick — as well as manage the spread. These tips are simple, yet many of us continue to overlook them.

1. Wash your hands

And wash them often — especially after using the washroom, after sneezing or coughing, and before you eat. When using soap and water, make sure you wash for at least 20 seconds. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

2. Cover your coughs and sneezes

Use a disposable tissue or sneeze into your elbow to keep droplets off shared surfaces and your hands — as well as the people beside you!

3. Avoid touching your face

Don’t forget that the eyes, nose, and mouth are gateways for viruses to enter our bodies. The less contact, the less opportunity for infection.

4. Stay home

If you are sick — and especially if you have a fever — try to stay away from school, work, or group settings as much as possible.

5. Keep your space clean

Use a disinfectant to wipe down items you touch frequently or touched while ill, like doorknobs and phones.

6. Get the flu shot

Both the virus itself and the flu shot change each year. Everyone over six months of age should get the flu shot every fall. This is your best defence against the flu!


These six tips can help you enjoy all the splendours of your favourite season! While enjoying a long-awaited pumpkin spice latte is near the top of my list, avoiding a cold or flu is the top priority of my seasonal plans.

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