Keeping the flu bug away from your door

&8220;It&8217;s better to be healthy alone than sick with someone else.&8221;

&8212;Phillip C. McGraw

Friends in Tuscaloosa reported late last week the first case of flu I had heard of this year. Like severe thunderstorms, what&8217;s in Tuscaloosa now will surely reach Shelby County soon. Now is the time to get ready for flu season.

Admittedly, I have a well&045;earned reputation for fearing germs. Those with which I work would quickly point out that I am seldom far from hand sanitizer. For those with similar reputations, the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] has a new technological advance that is right up our alley &045;&045; flu activity reports sent directly to your mobile phone or PDA.

No longer do we need to wait for the high fever, the aches and the weakness as signs of the flu; a text message sent to our mobile phone can now be one of the early signs of its onslaught.

If you are interested in signing up, simply follow this link: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/updates.htm.

One of the less &8220;techie,&8221; but most effective tools

is getting a vaccination and there is still time to do so. Those 65 and older and all children 6 to 23 months of age are particularly encouraged to be vaccinated each year. Flu vaccinations are readily available throughout Shelby County.

Here are a few of the less innovative, but highly effective suggestions from the CDC for doing your best to ward off the flu this season:

-Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

-Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

-Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

-Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

-If you get the flu, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings. In this way you will help prevent others from catching your illness.

A combination of innovative new tools and proven best practices give people throughout our community several options for fighting off flu this year.

But should all your precautions fail to keep the flu away this year, nothing seems to help ease flu symptoms like plenty of rest and hot chicken soup.