It’s that time of year – the time when the kids are coming home from school with new illnesses to share with their siblings, parents, grandparents and others around them. There is so much snotting, sniffing, and coughing happening this time of year. I miss the summer already.
Knowing how to handle the cold and flu season is important. It tends to sneak up on us and take us by surprise. But not only do we, as parents, need to prepare ourselves for household illnesses by stocking up on supplies (like soda crackers, thermometers that work, medicine and more) but we also need to try and be as preventative as we can. There’s a reason we are always telling the kids to stop putting their hands in their mouths or to wash their hands. Coughs and colds aren’t the only viruses lurking at this time of year, it’s also when the flu tends to show up (it’s also known as influenza, not to be confused with other illness or a gastro bug! Read about the symptoms here). It also means that many of us will be getting the flu shot.
It’s the not most glamorous of topics but our family feels getting the flu shot is important. For us, it was always less about avoiding an illness ourselves, but more about avoiding making someone else we cared for ill. We often had newborn babies come into our lives (and certainly were acutely aware of the need to protect our own newborns who were too young to be vaccinated from germs entering the house) and before my grandparents passed away we often visited them, but knew how vulnerable they, and others at their nursing home, were to illness. Those people mattered to us, so we got the flu shot to help them (and ourselves ultimately).
That vulnerability hit very close to home about 6 years ago. When Andy was going through chemo treatments (he’s cancer free now, for new readers!), it was so crucial that we kept him healthy – he had medicines (and needles that I had to give him) that would help his body fight illness, but keeping our home and selves as germ free as possible was essential. We continue to get the flu shot even now and think about people like him, who were vulnerable, as we do so.
How to help prevent the flu
There is no guaranteed way to prevent getting sick, but here are a few ideas from our family to yours that hopefully will help:
-Get the flu shot.
-Encourage the entire family to wash their hands often with soap and water. Especially before anyone touches food!
-Talk to your kids about how to keep their bodies healthy – by keeping their hands out of their mouths, sleeping and eating well, not sharing drinks and other tips.
-Teach your kids how to sneeze and cough into their sleeve/elbow or tissue.
-Wash surfaces, like door knobs, keyboards, remote controls etc. often and especially if someone is ill in the house. The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 8 hours!
For more tips and information about the flu or where to get the flu shot, visit the Government of Ontario’s website.
I hope your family stays virus free this winter; or at least as much as any household can when kids are bringing home new germs all the time!
Disclaimer: This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.