The flu is no joke! Luckily, knock on wood, it hasn’t made its way into our home this season. But so many homes are not as fortunate and it seems to be cycling through to everyone. There is also a myth that you can’t get the flu twice. That isn’t true. You can catch different strains of the flu one right after the other. YIKES! I know that you guys know how important it is to wash your hands, etc. and we drill it down into our kids, but there are other things that we, as moms and dads, can do to help keep ourselves, our homes and ultimately our families, healthy.
10 Ways to avoid the flu in your home:
1. Always wash your hands after you handle dirty laundry. This is one most of us probably don’t think about very often. I do. Every time I do the laundry. When I think about the clothes that the kids wore to school and the sweats and sweaty shirt that came back from the gym it makes me shiver. I always wash my hands after separating the laundry or loading it into the washer. Keep some gentle hand soap and a towel close by the laundry room sink to have quick access to hand-washing.
2. Lysol backpacks when coming home from school. When our kids come in the door I hit the backpacks with a can of Lysol. I keep it in the mudroom and when they come in the door their backpacks get sanitized. Train the kids to do this themselves when they are old enough. I know that other kids have been coming to school sick and spreading those germs. I try to eliminate their presence in the home if I can.
3. Wash/disinfect lunch boxes. I throw some Lysol on the lunch boxes, too. At the end of the week, just like their gym uniforms whether they like it or not, the lunch boxes get thrown into the washer. If yours can’t be machine washed, make sure you wash it thoroughly with some good antibacterial soap. Little hands all over noses and all over lunch boxes. Yuck.
4. Remove shoes when you all walk in the door. I am about to repeat what was said on the Today show a little while back. There is an estimated 421,000 different types of bacteria and toxins on the bottom of your shoes. Those include e.coli, lawn care toxins and the flu. Think about it. We go to the gym or grocery store or schools and step all over the carpet or tile with all of those germs and then use the public restrooms when we are out. Then we come home we are tracking ALL of that into the house and contaminating our safe spaces. Thinking about a no-shoe rule in the house now?
5. Wash hands and clean countertops after putting the groceries away. Seems like a “duh” idea, right? When we go into the store, a lot of us are good about wiping down our cart handles with the disinfectant wipes they offer (thank you, stores). But, have you ever wiped the bottom of the basket where your groceries sit? Dr. Charles P. Gerba randomly tested 85 grocery carts. 50% of carts were found to have e.coli in the basket and a whopping 72% had coliform bacteria (containing fecal material), salmonella and listeria to name a few. EEEEWWWWW! So wipe down those handles. But, before you put your groceries in the cart, be sure to wipe down the basket, too! And, since we don’t know has been handling the groceries before they end up in our bags, and if they have had the flu, we should disinfect the counters after the groceries are put away.
6. Lysol wipe every light switch and door handle daily. This is an easy thing to teach the kids to do once they are old enough. Keep a canister of disinfectant wipes in each bathroom and wipe down every door handle, light-switch and toilet handle daily. The kids can do it after they brush teeth and hair. It just is one more way to help eliminate the spread of germs.
7. Wash hands before you wash your face. Not only is this keeping you from touching all kinds of bacteria and then touching your face and eyes with those dirty hands, but our skin isn’t prepared to handle chemicals that we may come into contact with (like lysol wipes).
8. Empty dirty canisters and wash hands. Of course we are going to have to empty our canisters in our vacuum cleaners, but make sure to wash your hands immediately afterward. There is so much disgusting stuff lurking in those canisters! Dustmites, bacteria and whatever your pets and kids friends may be bringing in with them! YUCK!
9. Remove those gym clothes ASAP!! Gym clothes carry germs and bacteria and not just from you and your own sweat! Gyms are one of the worst places for bacteria to grow. More than twice the level of “acceptable” bacteria on a surface! And you know what? Sick people are going there, too. They think, “I will just sweat it out”….. all over that bench you were just laying on (shiver)!
10. Frequently wipe down cell phones/steering wheels/computer keyboards. It is really hard to be conscious of these simple things that we use every day. My friend keeps a container of disinfectant wipes in her console in the car and when she is waiting for the kids to get out of school she cleans all of these surfaces quickly. Have the kids wipe down their cell phones and keyboards on the drive home. And as moms it seems like we are always in the car. AND TOUCHING EVERYTHING OUR KIDS OWN! Maybe we should all have a canister of wipes in our consoles, too!
I try hard to do a good job help keep my family healthy. I don’t do these things all the time, but writing this makes me think I should start being better about it. Good luck keeping the flu at bay in your home. Good new is that they just announced it will probably last longer this year! Maybe until May!! Have a peaceful and healthy week, friends!