7 Tips Beyond Hand Washing to Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

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‘Tis the season for germs. No matter how much one tries to avoid it, this time of year there are sick people all around–especially true right now in Wisconsin with flu season in full swing and influenza activity unpredictably high. This ups my anxiety, and I go into full-blown crazy cleaning lady mode.

This year both of my kids got sick over winter break causing them to be ill for four days each totaling eight days. Um, talk about going stir crazy.  I did my best to protect myself and those we would normally visit with over the holidays. Sometimes these illnesses come out of nowhere, but over the years of being in schools and a mom to young kids, I’ve found some ways to fight back. 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a mom sharing her thoughts on what can help.  Always seek medical attention and discuss concerns with your doctor.  

Beyond just washing your hands, here are some tips that may help some–if not all–of your family members stay healthy during this cold and flu season. 

  1. Keep Surfaces Clean

    • During peak flu season, I keep Clorox disinfecting wipes on my counter and in my car and frequently wipe down counters, door handles, remotes, car seats, and other frequent high-touch spaces. Because these are disposable, it saves on laundry and keeps contamination at bay. 
  2. Keep Hand Sanitizer on Hand –like everywhere

    • There is a bottle of hand sanitizer in all high traffic areas of my house. I even have a full bottle in the cup holder of my car that we use when getting in and out. We also have a bottle by our door and one in our to-go bag. It’s perfect for little kids to do on their own and can help when washing isn’t an option. When at work, have one at your desk and a mini in your purse. 
  3. Cover Your Cough and Sneeze with Sleeve/Elbow/Tissue

    • This tends to be more effective than the hand as it’s more likely a person would touch her eyes or nose afterward. Plus, if the bathroom is not right there, using one of these other options will contain germs versus spreading them to the next thing touched.
  4. Wash Up Before Leaving Kid Places 

    • If you are out and about at a high traffic kid place–think playland, be sure to wash with soap and water before leaving. Once you get in the car, you’re less likely to remember–which is where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Make it part of the routine to take a bathroom break before you leave so that you don’t have to worry about germs or accidents. Perfect!
  5. Keep Sick Kids at Home & Avoid Homes Where Kids were Recently Sick

    • I’m not saying become hermits, but keep a few days in-between visits when you know there has been an illness. Everyone thanks you!
  6. Don’t Share!

    • Sharing is caring unless it is sharing germs. From the start of the school year to the end, we have a “no sharing rule” in our house. This doesn’t always help our kids from spread illnesses to each other, but it does cut down on how often my husband and I get sick. This also applies to big gatherings with a lot of shared food. It’s best to have guests use silverware to dish snacks onto his or her own plate.
  7. Use Sanitizing Mode on Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine

    • Many new appliances have this setting so that dishes and laundry are set to the highest heat in an attempt to kill germs. Check your washer and dishwasher to see if you have this option. 

Hopefully, these tips will work for you and keep your family healthy during the 2020 flu season. When it comes to Norovirus aka the stomach bug, bleach is the only thing that will fully clean surfaces. See this helpful handout for ways to clean up when that illness strikes.

What are your best tips to stay healthy during cold and flu season? Readers would love to know, so please share in the comments.

Looking for more health tips? Check out this article “Too Sick for School”