Between flu season, COVID-19, and sinus infections, you and your family have no doubt already seen a fair share of sickness in your household this year. As you go into another school year, how can you prevent your kids from getting sick and bringing germs home? Here are some tried and true tips to help your family stay well.
Wash hands well and often
Washing your hands is not a new trick and it is one of our best lines of defense for fighting the spread of germs. In fact, this method has been proven effective, regardless of the kind of soap you use. The CDC cites some studies that show “handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections (e.g., colds).”
It’s important to note, however, that you do need to wash your hands properly (i.e. long enough and at the right times) in order for handwashing to effectively prevent the spread of germs. Experts recommend that you lather up and, for 20 seconds, srub the entire surface area of your hands, including:
- The backs of your hands
- In between your fingers
- Your palms, wrists, and finger tips.
Rinse after 20 seconds of scrubbing. Be sure to wash your hands before eating food (even if it’s just a quick snack), after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose.
Boost your immune system
Because we come into contact with germs and bacteria every single day, it’s important to keep our immune system strong and capable of fighting viruses, infections, and other illnesses. While some immune systems are naturally weak due to genetics or pre-existing conditions, many immune systems benefit from doing things such as:
- Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours for adults, 9-12 hours for kids depending on their age)
- Eating healthy foods (especially foods with vitamin C, B6, and E)
- Drinking plenty of water
- Exercising weekly
- Minimizing stress
- Getting outside on a daily basis (our bodies produce the powerful, immune-boosting vitamin D when we get sunshine)
Keep sickness home
In addition to all of the above, it’s important to remember to both keep your distance from sick people and to distance yourself from others if you are sick.
For example, if your child gets sick, have them stay home from school, cancel the playdate, and don’t take them to church or the grocery store with you until they are completely well. Also, if a friend or someone you know is sick, postpone get-togethers with them until they are well. Even if they say “it’s just allergies,” it is better to err on the side of caution in these situations.