Everyone jokes about kids being germ factories. But with cold and flu season upon us, getting sick is no laughing matter.
To reduce our risk as parents of getting sick and alternating who in the house is sick for the season, I've gathered ten tips that will help us and others stay healthy.
This November, everyone in our house got sick--one after the other. Both cubes and Gates had walking pneumonia. So, as you can imagine as we head into the thick of cold and flu season I want to ensure we're going to stay healthy.
1. Wash your hands, scrubbing vigorously for 20 seconds. (Sing or hum the tune of Happy Birthday twice to ensure you've washed them for long enough.) Before you eat. If you don't have access to soap and water, use a Nice Pak D43600 PDI Sani-Hands Instant Hand Sanitizing Wipe (Pack of 100)(*affiliate link) or hand sanitizer. (Alcohol-based hand wipes with 65.9 percent ethanol alcohol have been shown more effective than rubs in reducing bacteria and spores (Source).)
Immediately when you come inside. If your kids see you doing this, they're much more likely to do the same, especially if they're young. Start good habits young!
2. Regularly wipe down the exterior of purses, totes, and/or brief cases. Think about the surfaces you place your bag on--bathroom counters, the floor. Check for color fastness in an inconspicuous spot before you begin. For leather bags, use alcohol-free wipes or spring for a professional leather cleaning. Be sure to wipe down everything in your bag as well.
3. Wear clothes that can be easily laundered. If you're around a bunch of kids with runny noses and coughs, you're going to want to toss your clothes in the laundry as soon as you get home. Maybe this is overkill but you don't want to transfer germs to multiple surfaces in your home. Do the same with your kids' clothes. “If I saw 10 patients today, and eight had flu symptoms, I’m likely to take my uniform off the minute I get home, put it in the wash, and get right in the shower. Because you just never know,” says Beth Geoghegan, a paramedic in South Florida (Source).
Be aware that cold water or lukewarm water doesn't kill bacteria and that you need to regularly clean your washing machine as well. Samsung has tips on how to avoid spreading bacteria.
4. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, light switches, the handles to your refrigerator, and so on) with Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 OZ(*affiliate link) or white vinegar. Forget the antibacterial cleaning products as there's no data to show they're effective, and they maybe doing more harm than good. "There are indications that certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA (Source)." Also, skip the sponge and use a paper towel or wipes--you don't want to transfer germs from one place to another.
5. Clean your devices. Start with your smartphone. "Use 3M Electronic Equipment Cleaning Wipes(*affiliate link) made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone (Source)."
Not only does this mean your smartphone, but also your earbuds. For ear buds, apply isopropyl alcohol with a cotton swab.
6. Regularly replace sponges. You may have heard you can sanitize your sponge by either microwaving it or putting it in the dishwasher. Whether this sanitizes a sponge or not is up for debate (Source). Depending on the strength of the microwave it may take two to six minutes and the sponge could catch on fire. And the dishwasher may not get hot enough--there's no way to tell. If using the dishwasher, use the hottest and longest cycle on your dishwasher and use the dry cycle (Source). To be absolutely sure your sponge isn't spreading germs from surface to surface, use bleach (a teaspoon of bleach to a cup of water, let the sponge sit in the mixture for five minutes).
7. Declutter. Less stuff means less places where germs may be hiding. Less stuff also means you'll be more likely to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces.
8. Keep allergies under control. According to Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Lexington, KY, "if they’re out of control, then your upper respiratory tree is already inflamed, which sets it up to more easily acquire a virus (Source)."
9. If you are feeling under the weather, get plenty of rest and remember to eat and drink. Curious why chicken soup works? The dish's anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve cold symptoms in addition to hydrating and comforting you.
10. Be sure to check your temperature regularly, especially if you think you're coming down with a bug. The Braun NTF3000US Braun No Touch plus Forehead Thermometer(*affiliate link) makes it super easy to grab your little one's (or your own) temperature. Gates loved the immediate feedback, green if she was ok, yellow if we needed to watch the temperature, and red if we needed to go to the doctor. When I used it on myself to see if I had caught their walking pneumonia, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror to make sure I'd positioned it correctly.
We noticed that when we used it right after someone had taken a shower in the bathroom that it read a little high. We solved this by moving the thermometer out of our small bathroom.
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Braun No Touch + Forehead Thermometer for testing purposes through my participation in the Influenster Blogger Network.
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. All opinions presented are my own.
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