PERTH AMBOY–The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that an early flu season has begun with the numbers of flu cases reported in parts of the country already higher than all of last flu season. While an earlier than normal start can indicate a strong flu season, there are steps people can take to protect themselves and their families.
“The first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses is yearly vaccination, especially for young children, six months of age and older, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and those 65 years or older,” says Jane Badaracco, BSN, RN, CIC, manager of Infection Prevention and Control, Raritan Bay Medical Center. “Stopping the spread of germs is very important. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with tissue or sleeve, wash hands with soap and water frequently and stay home when you are sick with flu-like symptoms; fever, coughing, sore throat, body aches or fatigue.”
Experts like Badaracco believe that improving children’s hygiene habits can also be very effective in stopping the spread of viruses. Here are some tips:
- Teach your children to wash their hands often and thoroughly. If they tend to rush hand washing, have them sing a short song like “Happy Birthday” while they’re lathering their hands. If they forget to wash, put up reminders at their eye level.
- Hang and assign different colored hand towels for use by each family member.
- Purchase child-friendly soaps that are designed to appeal to kids. Little ones may be more likely to use them.
- Have children carry and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times they can’t wash their hands.
- Instruct children to sneeze or cough into their shirt sleeves or elbows instead of their hands if they don’t have a tissue. Hands are more likely to spread germs. They should also avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths.
- Try to keep children away from friends, family and classmates who are sick.
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