Flu season is a time of war – a war against germs. Invisible to the naked eye, they sit lurking and waiting for any old hand to come by and then WHAM! By the time you or your kid starts coughing, it’s usually too late. Once you start showing symptoms, you’re already contagious. You may be wondering how to avoid the flu virus all together? The answer isn’t so simple.

Short of quarantine or biohazard suits, there’s no surefire way to stop the common cold and flu. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying! With the emergence of enteroviruses like EV-D68, which mainly targets children, now more than ever it’s important to help keep your family safe.

What Can You Do?

Your best defense is a good offense. On top of washing your hands on a regular basis, here are a few tips and tricks to preventing the flu before it ever has a chance of reaching you and your family.

1. Avoid hugs and handshakes. This may seem anti-social, but it will go a long way to preventing the flu. Avoid close contact, especially from people who are sick. Even if you’re a thorough hand washer, who’s to say the person you’re about to shake hands with is as well?

2. Stay home if you’re sick. Don’t try and tough it out to show the boss you’re committed. If you’re sick, stay home! No running errands and no doing last minute chores around the house. Stay in bed and keep your sickness confined.

3. Wash your water bottles and cups after each use. This is easy to overlook. A lot of times we reuse the same water bottles for the gym or cups by our nightstand at night thinking, “what’s the harm?” The answer could be “a lot” if you’re sick. Reusing cups and water bottles allows flu germs to linger, and will slow the recovery process. Not to mention, it increases the risk of someone else getting sick if they happen to take a sip from your cup. Which leads to our next point...

4. Don’t share. Forget everything you learned in Kindergarten. Flu season is a time to be selfish. As well as not sharing things like utensils or cups, make sure you’re wiping down community items like remotes and mobile devices after each use. If your child is sick, make sure they aren’t sharing these things with their siblings.

5. Take care of you. We all try to eat right and to get enough sleep, but with busy schedules what we should do isn’t always what we actually do. You’re always taking care of your family, but don’t forget to spend a little time on you. It’s important during flu season to take care of yourself, especially if you start to experience any of the warning signs. A strong immune system is your best chance at keeping away the flu.

6. Get the flu vaccine. Period. Multiple studies have proven that the flu vaccine provides a strong line of defense. Ten minutes and a quick prick can save you from a week or more of feeling miserable.

7. Know the facts. When you’re cleaning your home, it’s important to know the facts about germs so you’re vigilant in the fight against the flu.

  1. Cold and flu germs can live on surfaces for up to two days.
  2. The flu virus is heat sensitive and multiplies quicker when it’s cooler. It usually starts in nasal passageways and spreads from there.
  3. Enteroviruses, which are different from the flu virus, mainly strike in the summer and fall, and are especially prevalent as summer temperatures begin to drop.
  4. The majority of people who catch a cold or the flu do so by touching infected hands to their eyes, nose or mouth.
  5. The flu typically lies dormant for about three days before showing symptoms.

How to avoid the flu is a tough question. But with these quick tips, you’ll be on your way to protecting your family and preventing the flu from hitting home.