Tips to Minimize the Risk of Flu in Your Household

Girl with the flu sneezes Young children bring many things home with them at the end of each school day, from art projects to funny stories. While these items bring joy to your life, kids may also be returning from school with something that could make the entire family miserable — germs, especially during flu season.

Unfortunately, coming down with the occasional bug is just a part of life. However, there are some things you can do to encourage healthier habits in your kids’ lives. Below, we’ll give you some helpful background info, as well as several handy tips on how to prevent the flu in your home.

First: The Answers to Two Flu Questions

A better understanding of flu in kids can be a huge asset when you’re trying to keep germs at bay in your home.

Why does flu in kids seem so common?

The first step to figuring out how to prevent the flu in your home is comprehending why kids get sick more often than adults. For starters, their immune systems are still developing, which means they’re more likely to pick up viruses and bacteria. For example, a study in Utah found that children under five have a virus in the nose for about half of the year, though they didn’t always show symptoms.

Now, couple that information with the fact that kids are at school or daycare all day in large groups, and it’s easy to see why flu in kids is so prevalent. These locales are more or less big germ factories, so it’s inevitable that your children will bring a bug home at some point or another.

How long can the flu virus live on surfaces?

There’s not really definitive answer for this question, as the situation is dependent on the actual surface and the type of flu. For instance, the Mayo Clinic notes that “flu virus-laden droplets may remain infectious for several hours.” On the other hand, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service states, “Flu viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing an infection can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes.” What both sources seem to agree on is that flu germs are capable of sticking around for quite a while.

How to Prevent the Flu

Aside from placing your family members in sterile, germ-free chambers, there’s no guaranteed means of completely preventing the flu. However, there are some steps you can take to help lessen the chances of infection.

  • Teach children healthy habits

    Your first line of defense is enlisting the kids in helping to prevent the flu. In addition to properly washing up (with soap!) before meals, children should also know to clean their hands after coughing and sneezing. That, of course, is because you’ve already taught them to cover their noses and mouths when they do so.

    In addition, kids should be instructed not to share drinks or food that someone has eaten from, and they should be told to avoid putting their hands in their eyes, mouth and nose. As an extra germ-safe measure, you can also have them wash their hands and change clothes as soon as they get home.

  • Pay close attention to main contact points

    Every home has several hot spots that are touched numerous times throughout the day. Cleaning them more often in germy seasons can help prevent flu in kids and adults. These places will vary by home, but include:

    • Door knobs, handles and locks
    • Light switches
    • Stair railings
    • Faucets and toilet handles
    • Refrigerator and cabinet handles
    • Computers and tablets
    • Remote controls
  • Increase overall cleaning frequency during flu season

    It just stands to reason that you should clean a little more when germs are in abundance. Take the time to clean bedding daily if you have a sick family member, especially if he or she has a fever. Additionally, wash communal throws and blankets weekly, or immediately if someone sick has been using them. Making sure countertops and common area surfaces are wiped down regularly will also help reduce the odds of illness spreading.

Don’t have time to care for a sick kiddo and stay on top of all the extra cleaning? We’re waiting in the wings to lend a hand, whether you need routine housekeeping or a one-time clean after a family member has the flu. Contact your local Merry Maids today!