As any parent can tell you, it's the cold season.
The reason why we often keep getting colds during the winter is not because of the weather, but because we're all cooped with each other (and each other's germs) indoors. Rhinoviruses can survive up to three hours on skin and inanimate objects.
That means when little Johnny hacks away without covering his mouth at preschool, your little Annie has ample opportunity to come in contact with his germs. And bring them home alive.
Here's how to prevent colds at home with an easy germ-busting surface cleaning routine.
Frequent hand-washing is how to prevent colds from grabbing a toe-hold. How you - and the kids - wash is also essential.
Unless kids' hands are visibly dirty, encourage them to use alcohol-based cleansers that clean without water.
These cleansers kill germs by dehydration. You can buy small bottles and pack them in your kids' backpacks for use at school.
If they need soap and water, they must scrub vigorously for at least 30 seconds to kill germs. (Tell Annie to wash while she sings the Alphabet Song. That should do it.)
The more you wash, the safer you are. This Handwashing Tutorial by an SC Johnson Pro has the specifics.
Finally, teach kids to sneeze or cough into a tissue and then throw the tissue away.
To obliterate cold and flu viruses and other germs that find their way into your home, regularly clean doorknobs faucets, countertops, keyboards, and other frequently touched surfaces that can harbor germs and viruses with a surface-safe disinfectant such as diluted bleach or disposable disinfecting wipes.
Don't forget the laundry - it too can be a key culprit in the spread of infectious germs, viruses, and bacteria.
If sneezy Susie handed your child her backpack or grabbed your daughter's sweatshirt arm at recess, bacteria and germs are probably still playing on these items.
Plan to wash your child's backpack (unzipping zippers, 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 duds. Remember, only sufficiently hot water and bleach kill germs and bacteria, so become a voracious label-reader.
And for your kids' dirty duds, choose "hot" for the wash water temperature whenever you can. Many hardy germs can survive a warm-water swim.
Finally, don't forget to zap the bugs that hopped off the load you sorted and on to the washer and dryer's surface. Zap them with those disinfecting wipes.
Here's to a clean home, healthy kids and a germ-free school year, now that you know how to prevent colds from spreading around your home.