8 Smart Ways You Can Prepare Your Family for Flu Season

Last January, I started my 2-year-old and 11-month-old in daycare a couple of days a week. They’d been with me full-time since they were born, but I had a short-term work project to focus on, and I really had to have some time to focus. The first thing I learned about cold and flu prevention? Don’t start your kids in daycare in the dead of winter, in the height of flu season. We passed illness around the house the entire four months they were in childcare. Coughs, colds, sinus infections, flu, stomach illnesses, pink eye — you name it, we had it. Illness is bad enough; add in sick kiddos when you’re sick? Some of the worst misery known to man!

This year, I vow to follow every recommendation to prevent us from getting sick. Of course, it’s no easy task with kids, as they just don’t follow protocol for ways to avoid the spread of germs. (Seriously, do they have to put everything in their mouths?) But it doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. So even though summer is just wrapping up, I’m already thinking about the cooler months and planning to avoid the illnesses that come along with the season. Read on for 8 ways to steer clear of the colds and flu — and how to be prepared should you or your family get sick.

  • Flu Prevention Tips 1 of 9

    Ready to battle viruses? Read on for tips!

  • Get Shot 2 of 9
    Photo credit: USACE Europe District, Flickr

    The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Kids younger than 6 months aren't able to get the vaccine, so family members should be sure to get vaccinated to protect them. Flu shots are available without appointments at many major pharmacies, like Walgreens, CVS and Duane Reade, so getting a shot should be fairly convenient for many people. 

    Photo credit: USACE Europe District, Flickr 

  • Wash Often 3 of 9
    Photo credit: jar (), Flickr

    It's simple, but good hand-washing practices are an easy way to prevent the spread of infection, so scrub your hands vigorously with soap and water for about 15 seconds. For times when soap and water aren't available, have a hand-sanitizer or germ-fighting hand wipes available to use, particularly before eating.

    Photo credit: jar (), Flickr


  • Limit Contact 4 of 9
    Photo credit: |Chris|, Flickr

    The flu is commonly spread when someone sneezes or coughs in your direction, so limit contact with large crowds and sick people if possible. Always cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands. Likewise, if you're sick, stay home from work and take a break from running errands to prevent infecting others.

    Photo credit: |Chris|, Flickr 

  • Clean Up 5 of 9
    Photo credit: Horia Varlan

    Flu viruses can linger on surfaces for up to eight hours, so use disinfecting wipes to wipe down surfaces and doorknobs in your home if someone comes down with anything. Always throw away tissues, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.

    Photo credit: Horia Varlan, Flickr

  • Continue Healthy Habits 6 of 9
    Photo credit: lululemon athletica, Flickr

    Be sure to continue to eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep during flu season. Good habits like this help keep your body strong so you can fight infection.

    Photo credit: lululemon athletica, Flickr

  • Thermometers Ready 7 of 9
    Photo credit: tjmwatson, Flickr

    There's nothing worse than having a sick kid and discovering that your thermometer doesn't work. So you know just how worried you should be when the fever strikes, check your thermometer now to make sure it's working, and have a back-up battery or extra one just in case.

    Photo credit: tjmwatson, Flickr

  • Have Your Doctor On Speed Dial 8 of 9
    Photo credit: Willy D, Flickr

    Have your doctor and pediatrician's phone number handy for those late-night calls about sick kiddos. A quick call to the doctor will let you know whether you can wait it out, or whether you should be seen as soon as possible to start antiviral medications.

    Photo credit: Willy D, Flickr


  • Stock The Soup 9 of 9
    Photo credit: shawnzrossi , Flickr

    When your appetite is gone, baby, gone, a broth-based soup is sometimes the only thing you can stomach. Have some saltines and canned chicken noodle soup on hand, for the times when you are too sick and fatigued to make it to the store.

    Photo credit: shawnzrossi, Flickr


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