How to prevent germs from spreading in your home

Jan 19, 2017: While you may have figured out how to keep your family happy (most of the time), keeping them healthy requires a whole new skill set. Eating nutritiously, exercising, hydrating, dressing appropriately, and getting plenty of sleep, what more can be done?

The answer is lot simpler than it sounds: keeping your family as germ free as possible. This is especially important during cold and flu season. Although the flu and common colds command the most attention, bacteria and viruses are everywhere. Even worse, some of these bacteria and viruses can cause serious illnesses in younger families who haven’t built up a strong immune system.

Here are five tips on how to keep your family healthy and safe through the changing seasons:

Get a first aid kit

Keeping a first aid kit stocked full of first aid supplies, whether it be in the house or in the car, is a good starting point. First aid kits can come in handy during common accidents and can be used to mitigate allergic reactions, burns, and bee stings if stocked with the appropriate antiseptics and antibiotic ointments.

What do you need in a first aid kit?

Here are a few essentials:

  • A variety of dressings and bandages, including adhesive bandages, a roll of adhesives, sterile gauze pads, gauze rolls, eye shields, cotton balls, and cotton-tipped swabs.
  • A selection of equipment and supplies, including non-latex gloves, an instant cold pack, safety pins, a Turkey baster (to flush out wounds), finger splints, syringes, medicine spoon, thermometer, tweezers, scissors, a breathing barrier for CPR, hand sanitizers, and a first aid manual.
  • Medicines for cuts and allergies, including antiseptic solution wipes, antibiotic ointments, sterile eyewash, calamine lotion, and hydrocortisone cream.
  • Other medicines, including pain and fever medicines, antihistamine, decongestant, anti-nausea medicine, anti-acid medicine, antacid, and laxatives.

This should give a good idea about what items to stock in a first aid supply kit.

Preach the gospel of hand washing

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs is hand washing. The habit of hand washing is often difficult to instill in children, but it is vital that they are taught the value of it. Children are germ magnets! By getting them to understand when and why to wash their hands, they’ll be helping prevent the spread of germs!

Here are times when kids should wash their hands:

  • Before eating any food, whether its snack time or sitting down for a meal.
  • Before heading to play with toys with a friend, as this will reduce germs on shared toys.
  • After coming home after playing outside
  • After using the bathrrom.
  • After petting an animal.
  • After coughing or sneezing.

And, as a friendly reminder on the basics of hand washing:

  • Lather up, wash for at least 20 seconds, and then wipe thoroughly.
  • Use hand sanitizing gel when not near a sink and let it evaporate dry.

The fine art of tissues

While it’s always amusing to watch a child learn to master the skill of nose-blowing when learning to use tissues, it is vitally important to teach them how to properly dispose of a tissue after its use. Even adults are often guilty of littering a room with tissues. Since viruses live for hours on tissue, they should be disposed of appropriately. The best way, of course, is to flush them down the toilet if they decompose properly, but placing them in waste bin with a container is also sufficient.

Why sharing is not always caring

While you may have spent considerable time teaching your kids the virtue of sharing, they may have taken it a step further than you intended and think it’s fine to share brushes, combs, hats, toothbrushes, drinking straws, cups, forks and spoons, etc. You will have to explain that when it comes to some things, sharing is not caring, as personal items often contain foreign contaminates.

Brushing up on hygiene

One of the most efficient means of preventing the spread of germs is by consistently cleaning areas where germs are most present. Namely, the bathroom and the kitchen.

Bathrooms: Besides scrubbing down toilet bowls, bathroom hygiene consists of routinely wiping down sinks, countertops, tubs, shower walls, and toilet seats with disinfecting cleansers. When it comes to toothbrushes, keep them separated at least an inch apart to prevent germs from gravitating from one set of bristles to another. Also, don’t forget to wash bath toys, as dirt can accumulate in a toy’s small crevices. After washing toys in water and bleach, hang them up in a mesh bag to dry thoroughly.

Kitchens: Frequently wipe down countertops, cabinet handles, and sinks with a disinfectant. Also, store foods at the proper temperatures and never allow kids to help you with food prep unless they have washed their hands.

Set an Example

The best way to teach children to reduce exposure to germs is to model the right behavior. Remember, children are always watching and learning from your examples. For instance, when you cut yourself, use a disinfectant even if you think it’s unnecessary because it’s just a scratch. In addition to these standard ways of keeping your family healthy, there are now interesting hi-tech gadgets to ensure family health that you might want to research.

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