Cold season is ahead, it starts as a tickle in your throat, a sneeze, a cough, until soon you’re mouth feels stuffed with cotton, and you’re going through tissues in Costco-size quantities. Welcome to the cold and flu season and there is still no cure. There are, however, things you can do to avoid infection, while protecting friends and family from these pesky viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following tips:

Get a shot:

It’s best to be proactive, not reactive, when fighting the flu, say experts, so getting a flu shot is the first step in doing battle — and the sooner the better. “The flu shot doesn’t work right away,” says Nathan Limb, pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens in Chicago’s central district. “It takes about two weeks to boost the immune system once you’ve received it.”

Wash your hands:

Soap and water are your best friends during this season. Washing your hands, both front and back, for 15-seconds plus (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” three times, or the ABCs will do it) is key. This is especially important when working in common areas such as copy rooms or front offices.

Drink plenty of liquids:

It’s important to stay hydrated, and while certain juices have been shown to prevent fewer cold symptoms, drinking water every day, all day, is a better option, say experts. Without water, no living thing can survive, which means it is crucial to maintaining optimal health. While water has a myriad of health benefits, research has shown that not all waters are created equal, and that some waters have more health benefits than others. This, say experts, is why drinking alkaline ionized water, such as Alkame Water, should be an essential part of anyone’s health plan. Doctors recommend the mild alkalinity because it allows for more effective hydration, which supports an optimal pH-balanced body and is a powerful source of antioxidants, which boost the immune system, while also enhancing energy levels and overall health.

Keep your distance:

If you do get sick, it’s important to stay home so you can get better quickly and not spread germs to others. The rule of thumb is to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone without use of medicine that lowers the fever. This will ensure you are past the point where you are likely to spread the virus to others.