Keeping Germs Out of the House During Flu Season
With developing immune systems and slightly less than hygienic instincts,
kids are often the first to catch colds or the flu. In fact, the average
American child can experience six to 10 colds in a year. And if you’re
a parent, you know all too well how quickly a cold can spread through
common areas like school. Just one uncovered sneeze or runny nose is enough
to infect the entire family! While there’s still no cure for the
common cold, here are a few steps you can take to stave off a germ attack
on your family during this cold and flu season.
Create hand hygiene habits.
Hand washing remains the most effective (and simplest!) way to stop the
spread of illness. Teach your kids good hand washing technique: for starters,
lathering with warm water and soap, humming the “Happy Birthday”
song two times, beginning to end (the equivalent of about 20 seconds)
while scrubbing and rinsing thoroughly, then dry with a clean cloth or
paper towel. Remind them to wash up before meals, after trips to the bathroom
or when they’ve touched their eyes, noses or mouths.
Do a costume change to minimize spread.
With their tendency to wipe noses, mouths and eyes with their clothes,
a kid’s outfit can play host to plenty of infectious germs. Going
for a hug or cuddle can result in a parent catching a cold, too—especially
if your kid has had contact with someone who’s ill at school. Bacteria
and viruses can live on clothes for up to 12 hours. Minimize the spread
of germs by having your child change clothes when they come home.
Teach cough & sneeze etiquette.
Lacking instruction, the world can be a kid’s tissue when they’re
sick. Every time a child sneezes into their hands, they transmit germs
far and wide, from doorknobs to toys to common areas at school. Tissues
can keep germs from spreading through the classroom and your home. While
it is not as effective as tissues at minimizing exposure to germs, teaching
kids to sneeze into their elbows is a useful option when a tissue box
isn’t at hand.
Wipe down all household surfaces.
Antibacterial wipes can be a parent’s best friend during cold and
flu season. Make a habit of regularly wiping down household surfaces,
like doorknobs, phones, keyboards and food prep areas to reduce the possibility
of illness around the house. And don’t forget the items that travel—book
bags, writing utensils and homework folders can collect germs from the
class. A quick wipe-down of these most common elements can protect your
household from contagious microbes.
Catch some zzz’s for good health.
Studies have shown that poor sleep habits not only increase vulnerability
to the common cold, but can prolong its effects. Cultivating solid sleep
habits can go a long way in keeping cold and flu symptoms out of your
home, especially when combined with a nutritious, balanced diet and plenty
of water. Kids should try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757)