Protect Your Child From Germs This Flu Season
The holidays are coming up, but so is flu season! As we all surely know, the flu can really put you out of commission. It causes symptoms like chills, fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and aches. Worse yet, it’s contagious. It may even be in your system before symptoms appear, making it possible to pass the flu to someone else before even knowing that you are sick. What a way to put a damper on the holiday joy!
Let’s take a closer look at how the flu spreads, how you can protect your children from these germs, and how to teach healthy habits to your children that can help to avoid flu germs.
How Flu Spreads
Since flu season peaks between December and February, we want to make sure you and your family remain healthy as can be. Children and people with weakened immune systems are often more susceptible to the virus, and are also able to infect others for a longer period of time. In addition, children have some added symptoms: vomiting and diarrhea are more common for youngsters with the flu than adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two main ways flu germs spread. Most often, when someone with the flu coughs and sneezes, droplets from the virus can land in your mouth or nose. It is also possible to get the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.
Protecting Your Child (And Yourself!) During Flu Season
We’ve talked about how to care for a sick baby, but here are some steps you can take to protect your children from germs from the get-go.
Get the Flu Vaccine.
The single most effective way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine each year.
Inquire with School and Daycare.
You can take many measures to stay healthy, but once your kids get to school or daycare, it’s difficult to control what they are exposed to and how clean the location is. Ask the school or daycare about their sick policy and make sure they clean toys and surfaces regularly.
Sick? Stay Home.
If you are sick, stay home to prevent spreading germs to others. Similarly, if you know someone else is sick, keep your distance so their germs are less likely to be passed to you. That's just good advice, but it goes double during flu season!
Clean Germ-Attracting Surfaces and Objects.
Home security company ASecureLife tested ten common items found in nine different households for a small study published last year. It turns out, the germiest items were not what you might expect. Surprisingly, strollers, pacifiers and sippy cups, plush toys, diaper bags and television remotes all had more colony-forming units than bathroom floors, countertops, bathroom doorknobs and toilet seats. In addition, kids aged three to four had items with the highest germ counts.
Teaching Healthy Habits to Avoid Germs
During flu season, influenza germs spread quickly and easily, but there are some simple behaviors you can teach your child to instill healthy habits. This will help to protect them from germs that are associated with the flu.
Make Hand Washing a Habit.
Start encouraging and reinforcing this habit at a young age. Teach kids five steps for proper hand washing: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. You should also go over key times to wash hands, such as after using the bathroom or before eating.
Avoid Touching Your Face Too Much.
Touching a surface or object that has the flu germs on it before touching your own mouth, nose or eyes can fast-track the germs into your system.
Need to Sneeze? Grab a Tissue!
Both in and out of flu season, everyone should remember to cover their mouths with a tissue when they cough and sneeze. This will help capture many of the germs in the tissue rather than sending them off into the air.