As the cold weather truly sets in here in Ohio and the rest of the Midwest, I am plagued by my kids coming home and telling me how many kids are out sick from school.
I do not deny the fact that everyone gets sick, but I do know, as a biologist, that there are ways of helping my family to not get sick.
Or at least make the symptoms a little less awful.
The following are 5 things I try to make sure I and my family do every day when it is cold and flu season so I have the best chance of keeping my family healthy.
How To Not Get Sick Tips:
1. TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES
Take off your shoes BEFORE you walk into your house or take them off just inside the door.
You may not think so, but it is SOOOO important for keeping illness out of your home and staying healthier!
I want you to close your eyes and think about the life of your shoes…walking through bathrooms, parking lots, stores, schools.
Now think about all of the people besides you and your kids who have walked through that same area and where all of their shoes have been.
So when you don’t take off your shoes, guess what is walking into your house with you…everything you and about a thousand other people walked through that day. And possibly every day before that.
Everything on your shoes sticks to the floors in your home and then your kids crawl through it. Your kids put their hands in their mouths…and then your child gets sick.
You get my point.
Keep your family healthier by NOT tracking all of those germs into your home. Take off your shoes!
2. WASHING YOUR HANDS
That’s right WASH YOUR HANDS!! Sounds simple, so why do so many people not do it?
It is one of the KEY ways to not get sick in the winter! It is in every article we read about the spread of disease and on every sign in every doctor’s office.
WASH YOUR HANDS!!!
Every person who enters your house should wash their hands as soon as they enter. Whether it is you, your husband, your kids, or your family and friends. ESPECIALLY if you have a baby and the people entering your home want to hold that baby!
Your kids will be able to wash off all of the flu, cold and strep viruses that are residing on their hands after a day at school with a hundred other sick kids.
Dad will be able to wash off all of the bacteria and viruses from a day at work shaking hands with co-workers.
This will stop a HUGE portion of bad bugs getting into your home and into your kids.
Make sure you are doing it right or it will not work. Here are the CDC (Center for Disease Control) Guidelines:
Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Another good rule of thumb is for everyone to wash their hands before they eat.
Then the viruses and bacteria don’t get direct access to your family’s bodies.
To read more about hand washing and the spread of disease, refer to the CDC website.
3. CLEAN KEY PARTS OF THE HOUSE
If you haven’t been taking off your shoes, you may want to start off by cleaning your floors. 😉
If you have been taking off your shoes, then your floors should stay fairly clean besides the occasional spill and hand and feet prints from your kids.
In this section, I am talking about cleaning key areas of your house that get used A LOT and need to be wiped down OFTEN! Especially through cold and flu season to keep you healthier.
These areas include (but are not limited to):
Think about it, doorknobs are touched by EVERYONE in your family. Even people not in your family. So there are a lot of virus and bacteria hanging out on them.
Quickly wipe them down about once a week with whatever you like to disinfect with…vinegar, Lysol wipes, bleach, etc.
Again, something everyone touches and could stand to be disinfected fairly often. I like to do the light switches at the same time as the doorknobs.
I wipe my countertops down every night after dinner.
Food gets prepared there, so they need to be cleaned before food prep occurs and after.
Kids will drop their things (like book bags and volleyballs) on the first surface they see, so make sure if it is your countertops they get cleaned often.
I like to use vinegar in the kitchen so I know that there are no other chemicals getting into my food when I prep for meals.
The Sink and Toilet
The sink and the toilet are the two DIRTIEST places in your home.
Remember that chicken you were preparing the other night and rinsed in the sink?
Well, we just introduced bacteria into our sink.
Then think about all of the food in general that goes into the sink. And not just food… syrup, jelly, sugary drinks.
Plus all of the moisture. Bacteria LOVE moisture. All of these things are a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
So the next time you drop food into the sink, think again before you pick it up and eat it!!!!!
Same for the toilet…we all know what goes in there!
Clean them well…
Once a week do a really thorough cleaning of the kitchen sink. Use bleach or vinegar (never put the two together!) and let it soak about 20 minutes. Then scour it out.
On the other nights, spray quickly with vinegar, put some hot soapy water on a dishrag, and scrub your sink down really quickly.
This will not wash away all of the bacteria, but it does help with a lot of it.
The toilet should be cleaned at least once a week, inside and out with a disinfectant.
If someone in your house is sick with a stomach bug, you will want to clean the toilet before anyone else in the house uses it.
Your bathroom sink is also a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Every time someone gets sick and then touches the sink handles, that virus or bacteria can be spread to the next person who touches the handles. So make sure you disinfect the sink faucet handles often. Especially if someone in your home is sick.
4. EAT FRUITS AND VEGGIES
I have so far been looking at staying healthier by things you can do outside of the body, but now I am going to look inside the body.
Fruits and vegetables are one of the best ways to keep illness at bay. Fruits and vegetables are full of healthy vitamins and minerals that can help boost immunity and fight off disease.
Find ways to incorporate these foods into your family’s diet.
There are great recipe’s online for making fruits and veggies part of your mealtime.
I know vegetables are usually the tough sell for kids, so make them fun.
Make believe with your kids and tell them to act like a bunny rabbit eating leaves in the garden when you give them raw spinach.
Tell them they are a giant eating tiny trees when you give them broccoli.
And possibly add a dip or some cheese if that is what it takes to get these nutritious foods into your family.
5. VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Some people swear by taking vitamin supplements, and others refuse to take them.
For myself and my family, we don’t take them on a regular basis, but when someone starts to get sick, or we have been around someone we know has been sick, I like to give out bodies a little help!
Vitamin C is a good idea to help boost your immune system. Some cold viruses respond to Zinc, so that is an option if you feel a cold coming on.
The newest supplement we have been taking in our house is Samboucol Elderberry chewables. they seem to be helping us out a lot. Elderberry is supposed to be especially virulent toward Strep, so I am SOLD!
You can find more details and many more ways to prevent food poisoning in your home by reading through the USDA guidelines on their Food Basic Safety Page.
I hope these tips help you and your family say a little healthier this winter.