Try These Tips to Keep a Cold from Spreading Through Your Family
Just because one of you is sick doesn’t mean everyone has to be.
Cold season is hard enough to avoid as an adult, but when you’ve got kids at home — kids who spend all day in the germ-infested cesspool that is school — it can be downright impossible. Despite the ubiquitousness of viruses this time of year (younger kids can get as many as 8 to 10 each year, and any parent would swear that most tend to occur during the winter), there are things you can do to minimize the spread of the germs so one cold doesn’t take out your whole family. If you’re dealing with coughing, sneezing, and sniffling at home, make sure to follow these steps.
1. Cover Your Mouth
Viruses — including the flu — spread when droplets filled with germs land on other people or on surfaces that other people touch, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It sounds obvious, but covering your mouth and nose with a tissue (or an elbow when tissues aren’t available) when you cough or sneeze goes a long way in preventing that spread of germs. Make sure your house is stocked with tissues, and encourage even your littlest kids to cover up before they cough whether they’re sick or not.
2. Wash Your Hands
There’s a reason nearly every public bathroom has a sign encouraging people to wash their hands: it’s one of the most important healthy habits you can adopt to prevent diseases. So that rule should apply at home, too. The CDC suggests washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds to get rid of germs. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also do the trick if you can’t get to a sink, but may not be as effective as soap and water.
3. Clean House
Those germy droplets we mentioned? They can live on surfaces, such as phones or doorknobs, for two or more hours (and the flu can live up to 48 hours on those surfaces). You should make a habit of keeping your home clean during cough and cold season, and if someone in your family gets sick, take your cleaning routine a step further by disinfecting common surfaces regularly. While cleaning (with soap or detergent) and water will remove germs and lower the risk of them spreading, disinfecting kills germs. P.S. Use paper towels you can toss so the germs don’t hang around on washcloths or rags!
4. Keep Cough Meds on Hand
Of course, it’s hard to avoid all colds. If one of your kids does get sick, a medicine like Dimetapp can relieve cold symptoms in your little ones (age 6 and up)—and it comes in a great grape flavor they’ll love. Don’t forget to stock up on cough relievers for the adults who get sick, too.
5. Avoid the Sick Person
Colds are spread by germs, and germs are spread by people. Keep kids home from school and make adults stay home from work if they’re coughing up a storm, and then relegate that person to one room in the house as much as possible (and keep that room clean!). If you’re taking care of a sick kid, try to avoid contact with surfaces they’re touching, and avoid touching your face after handling a contaminated surface or object.
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