Our closed up homes during the chilly flu season makes them virtual incubators of germs and viruses. After all, where else can they go? They don't have any exit route.
And all the warm bodies - us! - inside provide a perfect growing ground on which the flu virus can gain a toehold.
You can get the flu virus when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. (Ick.)
These 9 tips for flu prevention at home can help keep your family healthy.
Hand-washing is the single most effective means for flu prevention we have at our disposal.
Make washing hands a frequent part of your children's day. (Tell them they can finally play in water.)
Remind kids that for hand hygiene to be effective, they must rub vigorously for at least 30 seconds to kill germs, about as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
Carry a hand sanitizer for those times when you don't have access to water.
When you have symptoms - such as a cough - cover it with a tissue. When you're without one, an elbow will do. Then throw the tissue away. (Keep the elbow.) And if your child is sneezing or coughing, make sure he knows how to properly keep infectious fluids to himself for flu prevention among the rest of the family.
A child with a cold should have plenty of tissues handy, and know how to properly dispose of them. Disposable tissues should be used to cover cough droplets and wipe noses in a way that secretions are contained by the tissues and do not get on the hands.
Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for flu prevention if you have a baby at home, or someone with a weak immune system.
Flu shots are easily obtained at pharmacies and grocery stores. Save yourself the headache (and worse) and be proactive now. It's not too late.
Don't forget the laundry - it too can be a key culprit in the spread of infectious germs and bacteria. If sneezy Susie handed your child her backpack or grabbed your daughter's sweatshirted arm at recess, bacteria and germs are probably still playing on these items.
Plan to wash your child's backpack (unzipping zipper, taking out papers and wrappers first) and school sweatshirts or jackets at least weekly in the hottest water that's safe for the fabric. Ditto for her school clothes or uniform.
If the item can handle bleach, pour it into the washing machine along with the dirty clothes. Remember, only sufficiently hot water and bleach kill germs and bacteria, so become a voracious label-reader.
And for your kids' dirty duds, choose the "hot water" temperature whenever you can. Many hardy germs can survive a warm-water swim.
There are some simple flu prevention housekeeping tasks that will help keep these menacing germs at bay. By focusing your cleaning efforts on major germ hot spots, arming yourself with a disinfectant and then shooting to kill, you can win the battle - if not the war - against flu germs.
What to put on your home disinfecting target list? Light switches, telephones, computer/laptop keyboards, remote controls, and doorknobs. These are favorite spots for any of the more than 200 sneeze- and cough-creating cold and flu viruses today.
These hardy bugs can survive for hours on hard surfaces in the home, especially plastics and metals, as well as on children's toys. A cleaner labeled "disinfectant" (see cleaning products defined) will kill most tough germs on hard surfaces. Ammonia and vinegar, contrary to popular opinion, don't kill bacteria or viruses.Save time by choosing a bleach-based all-surface cleaner or diluted chlorine bleach to both clean and disinfect at the same time. (Mix your own using 3/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water.) Spray directly on a non-food surface, and let the solution work its magic for 10 minutes. Wipe dry with a paper towel and toss.
Better yet: Consider stocking one of those pop-up disposable disinfecting wipes, such as those made by Clorox, beneath the sink, in the family room, in the kids' bathroom. As a preventative measure, plan to disinfect surfaces weekly - daily if someone in your home has the sniffles or a dry, scratchy sore throat.
Cold germs and 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. And if you do get sick, good health usually helps you recover faster.
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, another one of the virus symptoms, stay home. Do not go out and infect others. That's how an epidemic starts.
If you get sick, start an antiviral prescription medication right away. Taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms, they can lessen the severity of your symptoms. They can also prevent serious virus-related complications, like pneumonia.
If you're not better after several days, call your doctor. It's time to replace doctor Mom with a doctor of the licensed sort.