As you may have noticed or experienced first hand with your own child, the flu is still very much prominent in our schools. The unpredictable weather can sometimes weaken the immune system, and if you are not making an effort to prevent it, the flu can be very easy to catch.

Flu germs can linger on surfaces for up to 8 hours. It’s important that you are aware if you are around someone who might show any signs of the flu, including coughing or sneezing. Although those seem like pretty common occurrences, especially this time of year, you don’t want to risk a sickness that could put you or your child out or work or school for potentially weeks. When you touch a germy surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose you’re bringing the virus directly into your body.

We wouldn’t suggest quarantining yourself to your house just to avoid sickness, because it could be anywhere, but there are a few tips you can follow to help better protect yourself. If you are going somewhere like a movie theatre, a small restaurant or the mall you can try to be aware of the surfaces that you touch and the people you interact with. If you shake hands with someone or touch a surface whose cleanliness you’re unsure of, wash your hands with warm water and soap. Stock up on hand-sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and take extra care not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first. And even though sharing is caring, sharing during flu season is not the smartest move. You might want to share a sip of a drink or a bite of food, but make sure you are not sharing utensils, or straws; it’s not worth the cost of the sickness.

Another way to help prevent the spread of germs is to make sure that your child’s toys are clean; you never know what might be residing on a toy. Hard-shelled toys are a little easier to clean, seeing as they can get wet and dry fairly quickly. The first thing to do when sanitizing a hard-shelled toy is to clean it thoroughly with warm water and soap to rid it of dirt and debris. The next step is to remove the harmful bacteria that could be living on the toy’s surface by disinfecting it. The best method is to create a bleach-water solution. The proper ratio for this solution is 1.5 TEASPOONS of bleach and 1 GALLON of water.

Plush toys that are machine washable should be washed as so. That is the most effective way to clean the toy. Some toys, however are not machine washable due to their materials, and that is where it can be a little more difficult. The best to clean these toys is by mixing up a dish soap/water solution. Gently rub the solution on the surface of your toy with a rag soaked in the solution. Rinse the solution off the toy with warm water and pat dry, then allow it to air-dry thoroughly. We hope you make it through flu season without any outbreaks in your household. If your child shows signs of symptoms that seem flu-like do not hesitate to call us at our office. Catching the flu early is imperative to a speedy recovery!