How to Minimize the Spread of the Common Cold and Flu Virus

If you have small children at home or children in school, cold viruses can be a big bump in your family’s routine. A cold virus can certainly cause discomfort to the child or adult who is sick, and cause missed pre-school, school and activity time for children, as well as missed working hours for parents. Add to that uncomfortable, sleepless nights, worry (for parents and caregivers) and everyone just feeling down-in-the-dumps. Colds are no fun at all.

There are ways, however, to help keep colds from being spread rampantly throughout the family and beyond your home to school and the community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 80 percent of infectious disease viruses are spread by touch. From your child’s hands, to his mouth and eyes… to the hands of others, and so forth.

Here are a few tips to help keep cold viruses to a minimum and to help your family survive the cold and flu season better:

  • Hand-washing. Supervise little ones, making sure they use warm running water and soap. Hand-washing should be done after sneezing, touching or blowing the nose, and going to and the bathroom, and before eating anything! If you don’t have soap at hand, use hand-sanitizer–and then use soap and water when available.
  • Washing and changing bed linens, towels and children’s clothing is important; wash towels and bed linens frequently that are used by your sick child separately from other children’s things in hot water and detergent.
  • Emptying bathroom and bedroom trash baskets (full of tissues) into plastic garbage bags that are tied and deposited in the garbage. Make sure also to dispose of diapers of children with colds immediately. Flu viruses can spread via feces too.
  • Making sure the surfaces of kitchen counters, bathroom counters, toilets, hand railings, etc., are disinfected with wipes at least once a day.
  • During the duration of your child’s cold, use paper cups in the bathroom that can be trashed, instead of plastic bathroom glasses where germs can reside more permanently.
  • If a child is very small or is teething and has a cold, make sure to wash their pacifier, teething toys and other washable toys in hot water after they use them; and wash their face and hands after a sneeze, thoroughly patting them dry to avoid chapping.
  • Teach children who are old enough to learn to cover their cough or sneeze with their elbow or a tissue–and to place that tissue in another one and then in the trash.
  • Touching the nose, mouth or eyes can spread that cold through the tiniest amounts of mucous, sputum or tears. Often this is the way children pass colds to others.
  • We know it can be nearly impossible, but keeping a very sick child temporarily away from well children is a big help in restricting the spread of a cold virus.
  • Once a cold is over, ditch your child’s contaminated toothbrush and give them a new one, along with clean towels and washcloth.
  • Parents, don’t forget to wash your hands and cover your coughs and sneezes too! You don’t need to be the next target for the flu.

Meanwhile, please try to have a happy, healthy holiday season!

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