By Erin Vallely, ATI Advocacy Specialist
September 29, 2023
Fall in Central New York means school is in session, festivals and events are in full swing, and people are gathering inside again as the weather becomes less predictable. While fall is a fun and exciting time of year, it can also be a dangerous time for people with underlying health conditions who are at a high risk of getting very sick. However, there’s lots of things you can do to keep yourself, and the people around you, healthy and safe.
Importance of Public Health Efforts
Trying to stay healthy and not spreading germs benefits everyone. By taking easy steps to stay healthy, you will be less likely to get sick and miss out on fun things. You will also save money by not needing to go to the doctor, buying medicine, or missing work. When more people are healthy, fewer people are spreading germs to other people, so our community is healthier too. Some people, especially older people, young kids, and those with weak immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to severe illness even if other people do not get very sick. A regular cold can quickly make some people extremely sick. By helping to stop the spread of illnesses, you are protecting these people.
Steps to Staying Healthy and Minimizing Risk
Luckily, healthy practices are very easy to do every day, no matter where you are. Here are some things everyone should consider doing to help protect themselves and those around them this fall.
COVID-19 and Flu Shots: Shots help your body fight sickness by teaching your body how to react to the germs. Shots expose your immune system to a little bit of the germs so your body can remember how to fight against it without getting sick. You might not feel great after getting your shots, but you won’t get sick from them. You will also get less sick if you do get COVID-19 or the flu later. You can even get your shots at the same time.
Wearing a Mask: Masks over your mouth and nose keep germs from escaping your body and landing on other people around you. When there are fewer germs in the air, other people are much less likely to get sick. Lots of people can spread an illness before they even feel sick themselves. Wearing a mask in public places and around people all the time is a good idea. For a mask to work well, it needs to fit your face well and not get moved up and down.
Hand Washing: Keeping your hands clean is one of the most important things you can do to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to other people. Washing your hands with soap gets rid of the germs on your hands. This helps prevent germs from getting into your body when you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs on your hands stick to things you touch like doorknobs, tables, remotes, and toys. Then the germs stick to other people when they touch it too.
Avoiding Smoking, Vaping, and Secondhand Smoke: When you smoke, vape, or are near someone who is doing those things, you are breathing in chemicals and particles that damage your lungs. The bad air hurts your lungs and makes you weaker, so you are more likely to get sick. These activities can also cause health problems like uncontrollable coughing, itchy eyes, headaches, cancer, and damage to your internal organs.
Getting Enough Sleep: Making sure you get enough sleep and rest when you are tired is very important to staying healthy. When you sleep, your body is repairing small injuries, rebalancing your hormones, and resting so it can help you feel good the next day. Sleeping also reduces the risks of problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and brain problems. You want to do your best to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Not only will these habits protect you from avoidable illnesses, but they will also help protect the people around you. It is up to everyone to keep other people safe from germs and getting sick.
Learning about and navigating healthy habits can be a challenge for everyone. Here are some resources you can use for more information on some of these tips. Prevention is the best way to avoid getting sick.
- To find places you can get your COVID-19 and flu shots, go to this website https://www.vaccines.gov/
- To learn how to wash your hands really well, watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PmVJQUCm4E
- To get help with quitting smoking and/or vaping, check out all these resources here https://smokefree.gov/