closed-up homes during the chilly flu season makes them virtual incubators of the
virus. What else can these bad boys do but bother us?
They don't have any other 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 outside, we can affect how seasonal viruses and germs affect our family's health inside our home.
Here are 10 ways to keep the virus away and your family healthy.
Talk about under-rated! Hand-washing 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. (And it's cheaper, too.)
When you have signs of cold and flu - such as a cough - cover it with a tissue. 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.
In short: Don't go there. Flu shots are easily obtained at pharmacies and grocery stores in your neighborhood. Save yourself the headache (and worse) and be proactive now.
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 flu patient to ensure there's no cross-transmission here.
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.
When you are caring for that sick family member, remember to disinfect sponges regularly. Wet and pop them into the microwave for two minutes; sponges 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 off most germs and viruses. 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 even longer than that.
If you do get the flu, start antiviral prescription medication right away.
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're not better after several days, call your doctor. It's time to replace doctor Mom care with doctor care of the licensed sort.
Read 70 Tips for Cleaning Your Home After The Kids are Sick to get more flu cleaning tips.
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.