Whether you don’t get a flu vaccine, you can’t get flu vaccine, or there just isn’t a vaccine available for the virus you want to avoid – such as a norovirus or the newly discovered novel coronavirus, there are ways you can prevent the flu and protect your children from Influenza and other viral illness.
Every cold and flu season we take precautions to prevent the flu. In addition to the hygiene practices we already have in place, such as frequent hand washing, we up our game when viral illnesses are running rampant through the community.
*keep in mind, I am not a doctor, nurse, nutritionist, etc. Just a well educated mom trying to keep her kids healthy and passing along information from reputable sources*
BEST HYGIENE PRACTICES TO PREVENT FLU AND VIRAL ILLNESS
Wash your hands
This is the number one way to prevent the flu. Recommendations for hand washing to effectively kill viruses such influenza are to wash the entire surface of the hands in warm/hot water with soap for 30 seconds.
We use this song to teach our little ones how to properly wash their hands.
Another great way to teach children about germs, hygiene and hand washing is with books. You can also use a hands on approach with a glitter germ spreading science experiment.
Wash your hands any time you have been in public, used the restroom, blow your nose, or handle anything you think might be contaminated. Always wash your hands before handling food.
Use hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer should not be a substitution for hand washing but in addition too or if no soap and water is available. Give each of the kids their own small bottle to keep in their back pack or lunch box. If you spend a lot of time in your car, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car. Any time you re-enter your car from a public place, use the sanitizer.
I am all for skipping a few showers in the summer time, or even on a day where we’ve stayed home in our jammies but during flu season we take a shower every single day.
Don’t touch your face or put things in your mouth
We struggle with this one in a house full of nail biters but it is very important to make your kids aware that touching their mouthes or noses after touching a germy surface gives that virus a direct line to your body!
KEEP SCHOOL GERMS AT SCHOOL
It is inevitable that your children will bring germs home from school. To prevent the spread of germs to your home get in the habit of washing coats, book bags, and lunch boxes regularly. We toss them in the washing machine on Friday afternoons so they will be ready to go on Monday morning. Use a disinfecting wipe or a lysol spray to spray any hard surfaces such as binders.
Keep your body healthy
In order for your body to work properly and be able to fight off viral illnesses, it needs to be in tip top shape. This means getting regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, and getting enough sleep.
Boost the immune system to prevent viral illness
- Eat a diet rich in Immune Boosting Foods:
- Vitamin C: strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, orange
- Vitamin E
- Caratenoids: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale
- Zinc: oysters, crab, beef, beans
- Selenium: tuna, shrimp, brown rice, cottage cheese
- Omega 3’s: flax oil, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna -there are also Omega 3 supplements just for kids
- Elderberry: elderberry is new on the scene in recent years but has shown an ability to fight flu symptoms in a few small studies
Sanitization practices to prevent flu in the home
Wash high traffic surfaces regularly
Use a cleaning product that kills viruses and bacteria and use them regularly. Mixing 1/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water will kill most virus and bacteria contaminants. This print out is helpful when making sanitizing solutions Be sure to use in well ventilated areas, or opening windows in your home and wear gloves while using bleach solutions. During Flu season make it a point to wash down door handles, light switches, chairs, counter tops and any other hard surfaces daily.
Wash linens weekly
Wash all linens such as sheets, towels and pillows weekly in hot water. Also make sure you are not sharing linens, such as bath towels.
Don’t wear shoes in the house
Just say no to wearing shoes in the house. Shoes carry bacteria and micro-organisms that can contain fecal matter among other things. Everything you step on outside is brought into your home. If you have young children, especially those that may be crawling, you do NOT want that on your floors and being transmitted around your house