Articles and Advice

Steps to Avoid Colds and the Flu

While it is possible to get a cold or the flu anytime during the year, the height of the "season"-the time of year when it is most likely for colds and flu to appear-will soon arrive. Being healthy all year round is desirable for anyone, but for your children it is especially important. Practicing illness prevention at home is important because:

  • If your own health is compromised, you can easily transmit illness to your children.
  • Your children can bring home colds and flu; prevention at home can help reduce chances that everyone will get sick.
  • If your children are ill, they can spread colds and flu to their classmates.
  • When you model healthy practices and illness prevention, you teach important skills to your children.

Here are a few simple steps to prevent colds and flu at home:

Hand washing

Frequent hand washing is the most effective measure in preventing the spread of viruses that cause colds and flu. Washing your hands throughout the day, not just at mealtime or when changing diapers or helping at the toilet is critical.

Cleaning toys and surfaces

Keeping your home clean is essential to illness prevention. When you wash and sanitize toys and surfaces, it helps prevent the spread of viruses that cause colds and flu. Especially keep anything that your child puts in his/her mouth washed regularly. And don't forget "high touch" surfaces such as telephones and doorknobs in your cleaning routine.

Rest and exercise

Although proper rest and exercise cannot protect you from exposure to viruses that cause colds or the flu, research has shown that those who are well rested and who exercise routinely experience fewer illnesses each year, and their illnesses (especially colds) are shorter in duration and less intense in severity.

Consider a flu vaccine

Many medical experts recommend a flu vaccine for everyone. Others recommend the vaccine only for "at risk" populations. Consult your medical provider for advice about your family's need for flu vaccines. Your child's teacher may be able to help you locate low-cost immunization programs in your communities.

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