When cold and flu season strikes, kids are often first in the line of fire. Not only are little ones more likely to catch a bug when exposed-- but they are usually the ones to blame for circulating the sniffles, sneezes, coughs, and sick days that make influenza season all the more horrible. Help fight back against nasty germs with some preventive planning. Here are five quick, simple, and incredibly easy tips and tricks to keep the entire family happy and healthy this cold and flu season.
1. Get The Shot
Easiest solution to ridding the whole family of the flu? Immunization, of course. Flu shots are often fairly effective, according to the Center For Disease Control, and can shorten the time and length of illness if children do get sick by keeping symptoms minimally low.
2. Wash Those Hands and Elbows
Even simpler than the pains of resorting to the needle is another extremely effective way to prevent the spread of infection and illness. Hand washing is easy to do and even easier to teach tiny tots. Retrain kids to wash their hands properly-- i.e. lather with warm water and humming "Happy Birthday" two whole times while scrubbing vigorously. Also make sure to get them to scrub all the way up to their elbows and faces, especially before eating.
3. Get Those ZZZZZzzzzz's
No matter how hard we try, some germs just always find a way to sneak into our kid's systems. School-aged children need every resource available to fight off infections before they explode into a full-blown illness. Often times, getting adequate sleep is key to helping young (and old) ones avoid oncoming symptoms. Enforce strict bedtimes; help night owls manage their time more wisely; make sure your winter schedule isn't so full that it cuts into sleep time. Go a bit crazy and add mandatory weekend naps when the sniffles seem to be coming about. Heck, even slip in a few extra Zzzzzz's yourself. It makes all the difference!
4. Change Up Costumes... Often.
Who doesn't love a fun day outdoors? Unfortunately, bacteria and viruses often dwell on clothes for up to 12 hours-- meaning every time you snuggle close to a child wearing infected clothing is an opportunity to further spread illness. Have kids change at least their shirts after getting home from school to protect the rest of the family. It might create a lot more laundry but it is certainly a fair trade off to rid the entire house of unnecessary germs.
5. Humidify That Habitat
Tons of scientific evidence points to the fact that flu viruses survive best in low-humidity environments-- which is why it usually spreads most in the winter, when the moisture level indoors is at a bare minimum. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that making use of humidifiers in the home often helps ward off flu viruses on both surfaces and in the air. Though more research is needed, the study gives an ideal range of 40-60 percent relative humidity.