It’s that time of year again, and here are some tips to help keep your kids safe.
1. Wash your hands!
When you keep your hands clean, viruses lose one of their favorite ways to travel. Teach your family to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and warm water, and wash for 15 to 20 seconds long, long enough to sing two rounds of “Happy Birthday.” Make sure anyone who takes care of your child knows to wash up often, too.
Tip: Keep alcohol based hand gel in the car and in your purse for cleanup on the go. And use the wipes provided at the supermarket to swipe the cart handle before shopping.
Cold and flu viruses can live on surfaces for as long as three hours, so consider washing counters and tabletops with a virus killing disinfectant or a bleach and water solution (1/4 cup bleach in a gallon of water), especially if someone in the house is already sick. Wipe the light switches, telephones, doorknobs, keyboards, and other things that family members share. Wash cups and eating utensils well with soap and hot water between uses. Don’t share!
3. Get flu vaccinations.
Your whole family needs protection from the viruses that make the rounds during flu season, from school and daycare to home to work and back again. The CDC recommends that almost all children (starting at 6 months) and adults get the flu vaccine every year, preferably in October or November; the earlier the better. The nasal spray flu vaccine is an effective alternative to the shot, starting at age 2.
Tip: If you’re pregnant, you may wonder whether you can or should get the flu shot. The answer is yes.
4. Ban secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke puts children at higher risk for upper respiratory problems. Kids who live with cigarette
smokers have more colds and their colds last longer than those of children who aren’t exposed to smoke. Be aware of secondhand smoke in other environments as well, such as when you’re visiting friends or relatives.
5. Contain coughs and sneezes.
To avoid spreading germs, teach your children to sneeze or cough into the crook of his/her arm. The next best method is to use a disposable tissue. If they sneeze into a tissue (or into bare hands), they’ll need to wash their hands.
6. Avoid exposure.
Protect your kids by avoiding close contact with people who have a cold or the flu. If your child’s best friend is sniffing and sneezing, it isn’t a good time for a sleepover.
Tip: Avoiding exposure goes both ways. Try to keep your kids home when they’re sick, and stay home when you’re ill.
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