January 16, 2007 > What to Expect This Cold and Flu Season
What to Expect This Cold and Flu Season
By Heidi Murkoff
(ARA) - Have you seen the headlines recently? Listened to the news reports? Overheard the other moms stressing out at the carpool lane? To hear the media (and other parents) tell it, you'd think that germs that cause colds and the flu are hanging out in every corner of your house (and the rest of your environment), ready to infect anyone and everyone. But despite the hype, there's no need to panic. Believe it or not, your house is probably a lot cleaner than you think -- even with all the sneakers strewn in the hallway, the hundreds of toys littering the living room floor, and the piles of dirty clothes that never seem to make their way into the laundry basket.
Which means (you'll love this) when it comes to cleaning your home or protecting your kids from illnesses, there's no need to stress -- or go overboard. Sure there are some germs that are best avoided (think: E.coli, a bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea) and some allergens have no place in your home (such as those dust bunnies breeding on those stuffed bunnies), which makes it smart to limit allergens and germs that shack up with you and your loved ones. But there's no need to aim for a lab-sterile environment around the house. A few preventative measures and a dose of common sense is all it takes to keep your home and family healthier. It's easier than you think (and a lot easier than your mother would like you to believe).
To help protect your family from germs that cause colds and flu, I've written the "What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home," a free guide with loads of helpful information and easy tips to help keep your house (and everyone living in it) healthier. To order your free copy, visit www.whattoexpect.com.
With flu season just around the corner, it's smart to get a head start on protecting your family from the bugs that can bug them most. Here are my top five tips for keeping your home and family healthy this season and all year round:
1. Mind your hot spots. Those hot spots in your house -- door knobs, faucet handles, toilet flushers, computer keyboards, stair railings, cabinet pulls, toys -- aren't so hot. That's because those spots -- the places in your home that get touched over and over again -- are where germs like to collect. Most of those germs are harmless, but to be sure they don't contribute to the spread of viruses, keep those hot spots clean by wiping them down with a disinfecting wipe or cleanser.
2. Pass on the clean gene. Teach your kids that hands down, nothing keeps germs away like hand washing. Make hand washing routine in your home -- after going to the bathroom, after playing with friends, before and after eating, and after nose-blowing.
3. Take healthy habits with you wherever you go. You'll find germs wherever you go (in public bathrooms, on escalator handrails, shopping carts, playground swings, door handles, water fountains), and most of them won't make you or your family sick. Still, the best defense against germs is a good offense: bring along wipes and hands sanitizers wherever you go (and make sure you use them!).
4. Get a flu shot. Flu's in season every year -- from about October through April. To protect your family, follow the new CDC guidelines that encourage all children six months to five years (and all their household contacts, including siblings, parents, babysitters, etc.) to get the flu shot.
5. One sick child should not make a sick class. Children in childcare and preschool bring home more than pictures to hang on the fridge. They bring home colds, tummy bugs, and ear infections, too. So be a proactive parent by asking the teacher or childcare provider what basic hygiene protocols they're following to help keep the class healthy (how often the staff and the children wash their hands, how often toys and the sandbox are cleaned, how food preparation is handled).
There are many more easy-to-use tips and practical advice in the "What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home." For more information or to order your free guide, go to www.whattoexpect.com.