Drivers, it's that time of year when you need to protect your personal engine from freezing up, locking up, and shutting you down - the dreaded cold-and-flu season is upon us. Your job is tough enough without having to drive feeling sick and tired. It's all about prevention. Just like you have to get your rig winter-ready, you have to get your body ready.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 5 percent to 20 percent of the population will get the flu. An average of more than 200,000 will be hospitalized and thousands will die each year. With more than 200 known viruses that can cause the flu and colds, you are a moving target!
There is always controversy around the benefits of getting a flu shot and whether they are safe. It's always good to do research to determine if getting a flu shot is the right protection for you. The CDC recommends flu shots for everyone over the age of 6 months, especially those with medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, COPD, heart disease and liver and kidney disorders, who are at a higher risk of flu complications.
If you're allergic to chicken eggs, have had a serious reaction to the vaccine in the past or have had Guillain-Barre syndrome, you should bypass the flu shot. There is also a nasal spray vaccine available for those under the age of 49 and it has been determined to be as effective as the flu shot.
There are plenty of outlets to get flu shots. Many trucking fleets organize flu clinics at their terminals. There are several retail walk-in clinics that provide the service, as do traditional pharmacies, like Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS, and some grocery store pharmacies, like Kroger and Harris Teeter. If you're not sure where to go, visit www.flu.gov to find a nearby location. Regardless of whether you get a flu shot, you must be proactive and be aware of your surroundings. It's like the No. 1 rule in boxing: Protect yourself at all times.
Professional truck drivers are at a high risk of the flu because of the environment in which they work. The constant contact with fellow drivers going in and out of terminals and travel centers heightens your risk. The life of a driver means using multiple public restrooms, standing in fuel lines as others cough and sneeze around you and using different showers on a daily basis. The secret to keeping the flu at bay is ramping up your immune system and keeping it running strong to help fight off germs and viruses.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM ILLNESS AND BE PROACTIVE:
- Take a good multivitamin. It may improve your overall wellbeing. Vitamins are essential for professional truck drivers due to the difficulty in finding proper nutrition from foods on the road.
- When taking any form of vitamins it's a good idea to consume them right after you eat.
- Use echinacea. It may help stimulate the immune system and help the body rid itself of microbial infection.
- Take extra vitamin C. It will support your immune system and may reduce the severity of a cold.
- Utilize garlic, my favorite natural immune booster. It's a natural antibiotic and one of the best forms of supporting your immune system. Don't worry about offending anyone from the odor; in this case it's a blessing, keeping everyone at a safe distance. Garlic is available in pill form but pure garlic is most effective. Slice up the cloves into small pill-size pieces and take as a vitamin. It will not give you the aftertaste or odor that chewing it does.
- Make sure to eat in the mornings with a good lean protein source. During the winter months, oatmeal is a great-tasting, high-protein breakfast.
- Don't go long periods without eating. Your system will become weak and the immune system will lower its protection.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day and wear gloves when you can.
- Carry hand sanitizer.
- Make sure to wipe down your steering wheel and door handles daily.
- Always carry a handkerchief.
- Exercise and keep your circulation running strong - walking works.
- Always use a paper towel to open the bathroom door upon exiting.
- When possible, use your knuckles, not the palm of your hand, to push open the door.
- Use your arm to cover your mouth when coughing.
Good luck keeping the cold and flu at bay! I'll be sharing a complete roadmap for staying healthy out on the open road this year so come back to teamrunsmart.com to look for future articles from Rolling Strong.
If you're interested in becoming a driver wellness ambassador, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.