If you're trying to beat this year's flu, try these 6 steps to help you flu proof both your family & your home.

Have you gotten your flu shot? I’m sending out virtual high-fives to everyone who got the flu vaccine this year, and patting myself on the back for getting vaccinated in the fall. But guess what? 

Scientists believe that this year’s vaccine is only 30 percent effective, so we’re definitely not in the clear here. There are, however, precautions you can take to flu-proof both your family and your home.

6 Tips to Prevent the Flu

  1. Get vaccinated.
    While we hear that influenza is more dangerous to young children and the elderly, this doesn’t mean that you should bypass getting vaccinated. In fact, unless someone in your family has health complications that prevent them from getting vaccinated against the flu virus, everyone should get the vaccine.

    In a good year, scientists say that the flu vaccine is 60% effective, so whether the effectiveness is 30%, 60%, or somewhere in-between, your family’s first line of defense is to get vaccinated.
     
  2. Hand wash, again and again.
    If routine hand washing isn’t a thing in your home, flu season is the time to institute it. With a five-year-old, I often feel that I’m a broken record, nagging with hand wash reminders. As soon as my kiddo runs in the door, he needs to wash his hands; and after he coughs or sneezes; or uses the bathroom; and definitely before he eats.

    If you have little ones at home, try using this handy chart to remind kids when to wash their hands, and to wash them regularly.
     
  3. Become a cleaning nut.
    If cleaning’s not really your thing, it needs to be during flu season, especially if you have children. Get into the habit of cleaning high use areas and objects - such as doorknobs, refrigerator handles, counter or desk tops, cell phones and remote controls - with a disinfectant on a daily basis. 

    If you’ve ever had the flu, you know how easy it is to contract, and how awful it is to suffer through it, so simple daily wipe-downs are worth their weight in gold.
     
  4. Go disposable.
    As someone who uses an abundance of cloth in her kitchen in an effort to reduce waste, using disposable products seems counter-intuitive. However, it’s wise to introduce paper towels and disposable disinfectant wipes, if only for the flu season duration. 

    The influenza virus can survive on both porous (dishcloth) and nonporous surfaces (counter tops) for anywhere from two to eight hours; using disposable cloths for everyday cleaning and wipe-downs can significantly cut down on the possibility of influenza transmission (should it be lurking in your home).
     
  5. Disinfect with confidence.
    To make everyone’s lives easier, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of approved antimicrobial cleaning products, effective in use against influenza strains. Make sure that the disinfectant you’re using is on the EPA’s list, and if it’s not, replace it with one that is (Lysol’s an easy choice).
     
  6. Just say "no" to sharing.
    As parents, we bend over backwards trying to teach our children generosity and the importance of sharing. However, there are some things that shouldn’t be shared, especially during cold and flu season. I drink seltzer water all day, every day, and my son is constantly trying to snag my drink -apparently my water just tastes better.

    This time of year, I don’t share my drink at all, nor do I share utensils, as I’ve no desire to contract the Kindergarten crud. Establish a routine of not sharing any eating or drinking implements in your home, whether or not anyone is sick, to create a healthy habit (and quite possibly save yourself from an illness).

Flu season runs about 6 months in duration (October through April) - I had no idea it was that long either - but typically peaks in January, which is when you want to be on high alert. 

While there’s not a single solution that can protect your family from contracting the influenza virus 100%, apart from putting them in a bubble, diligence can go a long way towards keeping the flu out of your home.


About Lauren B. Stevens

Lauren B. Stevens is a writer, editor & digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.

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