Our closed-up homes during flu season makes them virtual incubators of the virus, as these nasty interlopers have no exit route.
And all the warm bodies - us! - inside provide a perfect growing ground on which they can gain a foothold.
While we can't do much about the cooler temperatures, we can affect how seasonal viruses and germs affect our family's health.
Here are 10 ways to keep the virus away and your family healthy.
Talk about under rated!
Handwashing is the single most effective means we have for preventing the spread of viruses and germs.
So wash your hands often! And make your kids wash their hands. A lot. (Tell them they can finally play in water.)
Remind them that for hand-washing to be effective, they must rub vigorously for at least 30 seconds to kill germs.
That said, what you probably shouldn't wash with is anti-bacterial soaps. They may actually cause more viruses in the long run by making germs resistant our cleaning efforts.
Besides, basic soap works just fine. (It's cheaper, too.)
Unless kids' hands are visibly dirty, you can encourage them to use the alcohol-based cleansers that clean without water. Pack small bottles in your kids' backpacks for use at school.
With a tissue or, when you're without, an elbow will do. Then throw the tissue away. (Keep the elbow.)
This is because when a coughed-into hand touches a solid surface, viruses and germs are granted entryway to another warm place to stay. And share the germy love with all you meet in the hours ahead. Ick.
Send 'em packing in a tissue instead.
This is especially important if you have a baby at home or someone with a weak immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says
that complications from the seasonal virus kill an average of 36,000
people per year in the U.S. and results in the hospitalization of more
than 200,000 people.
Do separate loads for sick family members, to ensure no transmission of viruses and germs happens in the laundry room. And be sure to keep this dirty laundry as far from your mouth, nose and eyes as possible.
When drying, choose the machine's hottest
setting. It's the best way to kill viruses and germs.
What's the most germ-laden room of your house? Nope, it's not the bathroom.
It's the kitchen -- especially the sink area. Remember this as you're bringing in soup bowls and water glasses for your family patient to ensure there's no cross-transmission here.
After all, the worst
germ-breeding object in your house is the kitchen sponge or dishrag. The
moistness in sponges creates an ideal growing environment for these
nasty little creatures.
Disinfect sponges periodically by wetting them and popping them into the microwave for two minutes; replace them at least once a week. Change dishrags daily.
Regularly clean doorknobs, faucets, countertops, keyboards and other frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant wipe or spray.
When someone in your home is ill, you'll want to be even more diligent in cleaning with a germ- and virus-killing disinfectant.
Cold germs and flu viruses are around all the time. So why aren’t we sick all the time?
healthy, well-nourished, well-rested people can fend most of the off. If you do get sick, good health usually helps you recover faster.
Make sure your family gets at least eight hours of sleep a night, eats healthy meals (lots of fruit and vegetables) and exercises daily.
If you or your child is running a temperature, stay home. Do not go out
and infect others.
Remember, adults are contagious up to seven days after experiencing symptoms. And kids are contagious longer than that.
Taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms, they can lessen the
severity. You'll also want to drink plenty of liquids. If your symptoms are severe – get in to see your doctor or consider going to your local emergency room.
If you or your child have trouble breathing, aren't able to drink not enough fluids, or have severe or persistent vomiting - consider this game over.
It's time to replace doctor Mom care with doctor care of the licensed sort.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.