How to Keep Kids Safe This Cold and Flu Season

A national H1N1 emergency has been declared.

Schools are equipping their classrooms with hand sanitizer dispensers.

My son’s pre-school is requiring all children and parents to wash their hands every time they enter the building.

And today on the walk home from the bus I found out that our neighbor just recovered from H1N1 and returned my daughter’s bus stop today.

As parents we often want to hit the panic button, but real strategies to keep our kids healthy should be our focus. Here are some tips:
  • Teach kids to sneeze into their elbows: No matter how silly you feel doing this, it is such a fabulous way to avoid the spread of airborne germs. Sneezing into your hands right now? Unless you wash them for 15 seconds immediately after, you’re spreading germs every time you touch something.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth: Speaking of touching, how often do you think you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth? I recently saw a show that monitored a board room full of employees. During a one hour meeting, some people touched their faces as often as 40 times in an hour.
  • Keep open wounds bandaged: Viruses and bacteria not only enter through your nose, eyes, and mouth, but through open cuts and scratches as well.
  • Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash your hands, and teach your children to do the same: For hand-washing to be its most effective, it should last for 15 seconds or more. Don’t rush!
  • Believe old wives’ tales: While you won’t “catch your death” by not wearing socks, studies have now proven that failing to keep warm – including your feet – makes you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria to which you are exposed. Throwing salt over your shoulder is your call….
  • Teach kids to blow their own noses: There have been many scenarios where I have taken care of a mildly sick child and ended up with a much worse manifestation of that same virus. Teaching children to take care of their own drippy noses and to wash their hands immediately following will cut down on the spread of germs in the classroom, at daycare, and in your home.
  • Don’t forget the basics: Eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking care of yourself in general are great ways to fight off the germs that you face every day.

There are, of course, other options that are very personal choices, but worth mentioning here.

  • Influenza Vaccinations – Seasonal and H1N1: There are many arguments for and against getting yourself and/or your children vaccinated against influenza virus this season. If you would like to know more, please visit the CDC’s Flu headquarters at Not only can you use this site to locate flu shots, both seasonal and H1N1, but you can also read more about the myths and facts. An educated decision is always the best, no matter what you decide is right for you.
  • Homeopathic Treatment and Prevention: I was actually inspired to write this post after the One 2 One Network shared information with me about Boiron, the makers of homeopathic treatments for both children and adults. I have not had very much personal experience with these products, but I know that many folks swear by them. Homeopathic medicines use natural substances in micro-doses to treat many conditions, from the common cold to seasonal allergies. With the FDA recommending that young children should not use standard cold medications, homeopathic treatments are often the choice of parents. To learn more about Boiron and homeopathic options, visit Boiron USA.

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