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‘Tis the season for colds and flu and all manner of sniffles and coughs! So when an unwelcome cold or flu bug knocks at the door, follow these six steps to help keep your home and family members safe and healthy.
1. Frequent, proper hand washing
The Centers for Disease Control explains that handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
Follow these five simple and effective steps: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry
- Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
2. Keep your distance
Infectious flu virus particles can travel at least six feet! Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or use the crook of your elbow (not your hands!) as an improvised mask to contain your germs. Make sure used tissues go straight in the trash, and then–say it with me now–wash your hands!
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
4. Clean and disinfect
No need to bleach the house top to bottom–focus on these essentials:
- Bedding and towels. Replace pillow cases and hand towels extra frequently!
- Frequent points of contact including doorknobs, light switches, faucets, remote controls, computer keyboards, and phones.
- Bathrooms need extra attention; again, focus on points of contact like the toilet flusher and faucets. While you’re in there, soak toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide to disinfect them.
- Kitchens are notorious germ breeding grounds. Disinfect sponges (zap a wet sponge for 2 minutes in the microwave), wash and replace rags and dish towels frequently, clean and disinfect the sink, countertops, cutting boards, and those frequent points of contact: cupboard knobs, handles, the salt & pepper shakers.
5. Let in some fresh air
Stale indoor air can be full of pollutants and irritants. Poor indoor air quality may contribute to many health problems including longer-lasting colds, according to E. Neil Schachter, MD, the medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. So throw open the windows, and while you’re at it, replace your furnace filters.
6. Boost Immunity
- Get enough sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s true: lack of sleep can affect your immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s always a good idea to eat plenty of highly nutritious, brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Other foods particularly good for your immune system include fresh garlic, turmeric, ginger, and old-fashioned chicken soup.
- Exercise is getting growing attention as an immunity booster.
- Laughter really is the best medicine. A good sense of humor does wonders for the immune system!