holiday-prevent-illness-mobileBarrett Labrum, DO, Primary Care Pediatrics

With winter weather comes the opportunity to share good tidings of joy and love. Along with all the hugs and kisses, comes the sharing of infectious diseases. A common question pediatricians hear is, “How do we prevent our families from getting sick?” Here are five simple steps that will help you avoid the cough and cold season.

Wash your hands. While this seems too simple to make a difference, it’s the best way to prevent spreading diseases. Hospitals spend thousands of dollars annually training and monitoring staff on hand washing techniques because they know that it is one of the most effective methods of reducing infections. Soap and water is still recommended as the best way to take care of germs in your home.

Sneeze in your sleeve. This goes along with keeping your hands clean. Teach your children to use a tissue or their sleeve instead of their hands.

Clean your home. Disinfecting toys in the daycare or nursery seems like a no-brainer, but how often are we doing this in our homes? Cleaning toys with a commercial cleaner or bleach goes a long way to help your children stop spreading germs.

Practice proper food handling. While many of us expect this to occur in a restaurant, we need to make sure that it is happening in our own kitchen. Studies have shown that good food handling is not occurring in most homes. Avoid cooking if you are sick. Practice good food handling techniques with meat and other foods that may contaminate your kitchen. Throw away leftovers if they have been sitting out for too long.

Stay home when you are sick. This not only means to stay home from work, but avoid going to the grocery store and taking your kids to public places. I often get asked when kids can return to school. Answer: Keep them home if they are ill and have a fever. They can return to school or daycare when their fever has resolved for 24 hours. If they are still feeling weak or run down, let them rest. Children with vomiting illnesses or acute onset diarrhea should also stay home.

Follow these guidelines to decrease the spreading of germs and keep your family healthy this winter.