It’s that time of year when the dreaded flu rears its ugly head. Ensure your family has put up a defense system to keep your home flu-free.
Germs cause the flu, and many other sicknesses from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea.
These germs can be transmitted many ways, including touching dirty hands, changing dirty diapers, through droplets released during a cough or sneeze, through dirty surfaces or contaminated water and food. Whether I’m taking care of my own children or children at Dayton Children’s, I I know how important clean hands are.
Excellent hand washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses, including the flu. Teach and reinforce these good hand washing habits:
- Use soap and warm water to create a good lather. Wash hands for 20 seconds—about as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are OK if soap and water are not available.
- Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails where uninvited germs like to make a home. And don’t forget the outside of the thumbs and wrists!
- Rinse and dry well with a clean cloth or paper towel.
To minimize the germs passed around your family, make frequent hand washing a rule for everyone. Key times for hand washing include before eating and cooking, after using the restroom, after cleaning the house, after touching animal and family pets, before and after visiting sick friends or relatives, after being outside and after blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing.
In addition to good hand washing, here are a five more things that you can do to prevent getting or spreading the flu.
- Get vaccinated. Every child age six months and older should get the flu vaccine.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If children don’t have a tissue, teach them to cough or sneeze into their shirt sleeve.
- Never share cups and eating utensils.
- Keep sick children at home. Children should stay out of school or day care until they are better—usually seven days after the illness starts.
- Eat healthy and get enough sleep.
Start building up your flu defenses today by following these germ busting habits!
Dr. Meyer is a pediatric endocrinologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She is the mother of two boys who she lovingly refers to as “Busy Bee” and “Sprout!” As part of the “Dr. Mom Squad,” Dr. Meyer blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Meyer!