Each year, September is a reminder that it’s time for children to go back to school and the annual flu season will soon raise its ugly head. Unfortunately the two events go hand in hand. School-aged children are especially susceptible to the catching the flu. Every year, anywhere from 5-20 percent of all school-aged children in the United States will catch some strain of influenza. Thousands will be hospitalized. For the 2014-2015 school year, 113 pediatric flu deaths were reported.
Parents seem to be very adept at buying back-to-school supplies and outfitting their youngsters with new clothes. The same concern should be taken in taking steps to prevent their children from coming down with influenza.
Here are some of most important steps parents can take to provide that protection:
Get a Flu Shot
Although still controversial in some corners, most doctors agree that getting a flu shot is the best protection for children against catching the flu.
Studies indicate that 90 percent of the healthy kids who receive a flu shot will remain flu-free through the flu season.
Exercising good health practices during cold and flu season is important. Try and reduce your children’s sugar intake by adding dehydrated food items to the daily menu along with a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, milk and water. Make sure your children get at least 10 hours of sleep each night so they go to school well rested and healthy.
Teach Hand Hygiene
We know hands are one of the most common ways to spread germs and viruses. And everyone knows that washing our hands is important, but how we wash our hands is just as critical. It’s important to teach your kids how to scrub and use soap rigorously under warm flowing water.
Avoid Contact with Sick People
It’s difficult to keep your children free from crowds where sick people might be present, but you can limit that exposure. Avoid going to public places like malls and movie theaters during the flu season. Even substituting private transportation in place of public buses can reduce the odds of coming in contact with flu carriers.
Humidify Your Home
Much scientific evidence indicates that the flu virus thrives best in low-humidity environments. This is one of the main reasons of why flu tends to spread rapidly in winter weather when the humidity level in our homes is low. One study shows humidifiers that keep the relative humidity levels at 40 to 60 percent can kill off much of the flu virus in our homes.
Regular exercise will also help your children in warding off the flu. In cold climates where snow and freezing temperatures often keep children housebound for long periods of time, exercise is particularly important. Develop a daily exercise routine that is fun for them but also keeps them in good shape.
Also look for opportunities to engage in indoor activities like swimming or gymnastics. If your children enjoy outdoor winter sports like skating or skiing, take cold-weather precautions. Be sure they are dressed in warm clothing, keep hydrated and use sunscreen for protection against the sun’s glare.
Don’t Spread the Flue Within Your Own House
Children often catch the flu from their own parents or siblings. If you have one sick child who could pass the germs on, try and keep them isolated from the rest of the family. As moms or dads, try to minimize the spread of the virus within the house by washing your hands frequently and use caution when wiping noses, changing diapers or preparing meals,
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By taking precautions to reduce your children’s exposure to the flu virus, you’re saving them from the discomfort of having the flu while providing a feeling of peace mind for your own self.