As a busy truck driver, the last thing you have time for is the flu. Unfortunately, working over the road can mean that you’re exposed to a lot of germs that can make you sick, both from other people and communal surfaces you may make contact with. Avoid contracting the flu this season by following these tips:
1. Get Vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says a yearly flu vaccination is the “first and most important step” you can take to guard yourself against the flu. While the CDC recommends the vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age, high-risk persons, in particular, are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated to reduce their risk of potentially severe flu illness. Individuals with asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease and individuals over the age of 65 are considered to be high risk, among others. The St. Christopher Truckers Fund provides free flu vaccinations for CDL holders. Truckers can print an electronic voucher from the SCF website and redeem it at a participating location for a free flu vaccine.
2. Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth
Truckers are well traveled and may touch several germ-covered surfaces as they touch door nobs, truck stop counters, sit-down diner counters, and more. According to WebMD, flu germs can remain on surfaces for up to 8 hours after the infected person has touched it. Prevent the spread of germs by avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Keeping an alcohol-based hand rub within quick reach in your truck is a good idea. Keep the surfaces in your truck clean and disinfected using disinfectant wipes or sprays.
3. Maintain A Healthy Diet and Sleep Schedule
A poor diet and poor sleep can weaken your immune system, giving the flu virus an opportunity. To better your chances of preventing the flu, try to maintain a well-balanced diet and get 7-9 hours of rest.
4. Avoid Physical Contact with People Who Have The Flu
Be wary of anyone who is sneezing or coughing and limit your physical contact with them by avoiding handshakes and sharing space too closely with them. If you have a significant other as your team driver that you share bedding with, designate them a specific pillow to sleep on while they’re sick. Germs can linger on shared pillows and blankets, and you could both get sick unless you take precautionary measures and divide things up while the sick person recovers. Also, keep your own pen in the truck for any documents you may need to sign, so you can avoid touching germ-covered pens that have been used by many others.
5. Take Flu Medicine, If Prescribed
There’s no absolute way to prevent the flu. If you do find yourself with flu symptoms, consult your doctor and take any flu antiviral drugs that you may be prescribed. According to the CDC, antiviral drugs can help prevent serious complications, especially for people who are considered to be high risk. Flu antiviral drugs typically work best when started within 2 days of getting sick, so don’t delay. Symptoms to look out for include fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue.