As the mercury drops, you might find temperatures rising elsewhere – in the form of your children’s fevers. The seasonal flu can lead to high fever, body aches and pains, runny nose, congestion, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting the flu this year. Observe these simple tips:
1. Keep a Safe Distance
Teach your children to cough into a tissue or the crook of their arm to avoid spreading germs. Flu germs can spread as far as 6 feet through sneezes or coughs, so this step is essential! If your kids are sick, keep them home from school or daycare for a few days, even if it means cancelling a play date or birthday party. If the local news is broadcasting a widespread flu outbreak in your community, consider limiting your exposure to large crowds for a while.
2. Practice Good Hand-Washing
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for a refresher on proper handwashing. To effectively ward off germs, teach your children to wash their hands for the duration of a round of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
This is also a good time to practice good cleaning around your home. The flu virus can live as long as eight hours on your home’s surfaces, so use hot, soapy water or a cleaner designed to kill the flu virus. Many household cleaners have this designation listed on the bottle, so check labels when shopping for cleaning products.
3. Use an Ounce of Prevention
A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in helping your immune system fight off germs. Getting plenty of rest and exercise and eating a healthy diet are good, equally important flu prevention tips. Give your child a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, water, and milk. Children require more sleep than adults to stay healthy – about 12 hours for toddlers and preschoolers and 10 hours for school-aged children.
4. Employ a Rule of Separation
Your children may share everything – toys, food, and even the occasional drink. But if you see one child going for a sibling’s sippy cup, it’s time to intervene. Remember, kids can be contagious before they show symptoms, so you could be unknowingly spreading the flu or other germs. Don’t share food or drinks, even when no one is sick.
5. Skip the Hand Dryers
You might think that hands-free dryers would be a slam-dunk for infection prevention. Recent research, though, suggests the opposite. Hand dryers spread 1,300 times as many germs than paper towels – and those dryers shoot germs right into your little one’s face, according to a study by the University of Westminster. Skip the dryer and stick with paper towels to dry your hands.
Keeping your kids healthy during flu season isn’t always easy, but it’s possible with the right approach. Wash your hand frequently, don’t share utensils, and keep sick kids away from others. Using these tactics, you can minimize your family’s risk of contracting the flu this season.