Enterovirus, Ebola, Influenza…all of these scary germs are in the news frequently. The good news is that catching Ebola is quite unlikely for the average American. The bad news is that the flu, enterovirus, and common colds are quite easily caught, especially when bad weather shuts people indoors over the winter. However, staying healthy this cold and flu season is not impossible. Many simple precautions can be taken to minimize your contact with viruses that can make you and your family ill.
Wash Your Hands
Hand washing is the number one thing you can do to cut down on illnesses in your home. Everyone in the family should get into the habit of washing their hands immediately upon returning home. Supervise your kids to make sure they are using plenty of soap and scrubbing for at least 30 seconds. After visiting stores, restaurants, and other public places, sanitize your hands with a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer.
Establish Good Sleep Habits
Studies have proven that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to catch colds when exposed to cold viruses. Researchers found that people who got seven hours or less of sleep were much more likely to get sick than those who got at least eight hours of sleep. Protect your health by hitting the hay on time every night.
Use Sanitizing Wipes
Stash pouches of sanitizing wipes in your pocket or bag to sanitize things like grocery carts, public restroom door handles, or your hands after you’ve had to use that pen in the doctor’s office. Keep sanitizing wipes handy in your office and home to clean frequently-touched items like phones, light switches, the computer mouse, and door knobs. Use those odd moments, like when you’re talking on the phone, to wipe things down on a daily basis.
Use Latex Gloves
To protect yourself and the rest of the family from germs, buy a couple of boxes of latex gloves. These come in handy for diaper changes and for cleaning. Whether you are cleaning up vomit from a stomach bug or helping a toddler in the bathroom, disposable latex gloves will keep nasty bacteria off of your skin.
Emphasize Workplace Health
Encourage co-workers who are ill to stay home and take a sick day. Offer to help your co-workers with their workloads if they are starting to feel sick, so they will be more likely to keep their germs at home. Ask your manager to consider a telecommuting policy during cold season to encourage folks to take office health seriously.
Also, if you are ill, do everything you can to avoid coming into work. If you can’t avoid it, bring in hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and tissues and use them to try to keep the office clean. Inform others that you are ill, and avoid close contact with co-workers. No one will be offended if you politely decline a handshake because you are fighting a cold.
While it is impossible to always avoid all germs that cause colds and flu, you can minimize your exposure to bacteria and viruses by using these tips. Have a plan this winter to keep yourself and your family healthy.