5 steps to steer clear of germs this cold and flu season
Whether you live alone, or have a house full of kids, there's no escaping the fact that germs spread … quickly. A simple sniffle or cough can turn into a big problem for everyone in your household.
Now that cold and flu season is on the horizon, it's never too early to start practicing new habits that can spare you a major illness this winter. Here are a few simple ways to control the spread of germs this cold and flu season so you can care for your loved ones without picking up their illness along the way.
1. Know your enemy.
Cold and flu viruses are spread by close contact with people who are sick, as well as the common home surfaces you touch over the course of a day. However, if someone in your home comes down with an illness, you don't have to panic and quarantine your entire house.
2. Wash your hands. Because others might not.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's not just about YOUR hand washing habits. Think about the last time you were in a public restroom and you noticed that one person who chose to bypass the sinks on the way out the door.
Indeed, to ensure others' germs don't end up in YOUR home, thorough hand washing should be at the forefront of your mind during cold and flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attests that soap and warm water is the best way to clean your hands, even more so than hand sanitizer. Practicing good hand hygiene, especially with little ones, is the easiest way to avoid illness this fall!
3. Where is your hand sanitizer?
For all of those times that you're not near a sink, hand sanitizer can kill germs in a pinch, but you should also be mindful of where it will be located in your home, and where it will do the most good. High-traffic areas are your best bets, so keep a bottle handy near your home's entryways, outside of kids' rooms, and heavily-used living spaces. The more readily available it is, the more likely it is to be used.
4. Sanitize everything. Even that beloved teddy bear.
If you or a family member has a cold, you should make an effort to step up your disinfecting routine around the house. WebMD suggests using a disinfectant to wash off commonly used surfaces like countertops, door knobs and hand rails. If you have small children, washing plastic toys in the dishwasher, and putting stuffed animals in the washing machine can also curb the spread of pathogens.
5. Cover your mouth!
Finally, if you come down with a cold or flu virus, be sure to cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of germs anywhere you are. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy, and think about investing in a handkerchief to keep your mouth covered when tissues aren't available.
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