Stay healthy this cold and flu season! So what to do to prevent illness for you and your children? Really you should do what you do all year round- eat healthy, stay hydrated, exercise and get rest! Wash your hands often and always use soap. For kids, remind them to wash their hands after the bathroom, before meals and after school or parks etc. In addition, at the start of the season, get the flu shot. Your child’s pediatrician will let you know when they are able to receive it.
There are some other tips at home and at the gym, which is also a common place for many to be exposed to winter viruses.
At Home: This time of year many infections go around like the common cold, flu, strep throat, stomach viruses and more.. AGAIN, the best way to prevent infection is hand washing! Wash after coming inside, after being in the bathroom, and don't forget under the nails. We all know you can avoid spreading your germs by covering your mouth while coughing and sneezing and we teach our children this as well. However, with kids and at home, this isn’t always possible! Do the best you can and on reminding your children. You want to also avoid sharing items around the house. Bathroom towels, kitchen towels and utensils in the kitchen for example are often shared. I would recommend switching to paper utensils, paper cups, paper towels etc. in both the bathroom and kitchen while someone in the family is sick. If you are still using towels in the bathroom be sure to wash the items and be sure to use only the one for you, and not share any of them. Also, avoid sharing tissue boxes. If there is anyone sick, have them use their own tissues too to avoid risk of sharing their infection with anyone using the same tissue box next.
For the kitchen and food, it seems obvious to not share food and drinks, although often it is hard to remember this when you are at home, but do the best you can. It is often easier to avoid family style serving to ensure anyone sick and they each only touch their own food.
At the Gym: Especially after the January gym rush after New Years, germs are easily spread. There are things you can do to try and prevent getting sick. Like at home, and anywhere you go this winter, the best way, as mentioned, to prevent infection is hand washing. That said, at a gym it may not always be possible to wash hands frequently so it is a good idea to have hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes readily available. I also would recommend wiping down the equipment prior to using. I also like to put a clean towel down first when working out or stretching, rather than laying directly on the mat, floor or equipment. Another tip to prevent getting sick is to avoid touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes) while at the gym or working out. (Really over the course of the winter months, this is a good way to prevent getting sick and important to try to remind our children too). This prevents spread of infection as realistically you may not be able to wash your hands throughout your workout or other times of the day. Showering soon after you get home from the gym is a good idea too. Avoid sharing items such as towels, water bottles and even water fountains. Stick to your own water bottle. This may seem obvious, but very easy to forget in midst of a workout or sporting event. Also, stick to your own tissues as you would at home. It is hard to know who is sick at the gym and many people need tissues at the gym! Carry your own tissue packets as to limit your exposure to others who may be sick using the tissues.
Lastly, some viruses, like the flu for example, can be contagious a day before you even have any symptoms, or also after feeling better. Children may be able to spread the virus even longer than adults (typically 5-7 days out) and until all of their symptoms fade. For that reason you may want to take extra precautions during the full winter season and especially if anyone has been sick recently as well.