No matter how much we try to stay away from the flu, the truth is that we may come
in contact with a shopping cart, door handle or even a product on a shelf that has
been touched by someone with the flu. The flu virus can stay alive on many surfaces
for up to 48 hours. Because of this, flu prevention starts with limiting exposure, but
it’s also important to take the basic personal precautions as well. This starts with
washing our hands often and not touching our faces. Now is a great time to teach
kids these basic rules.
Understandably, kids have the hardest time with this protocol, especially
with kids under 5. The CDC encourages parents to talk to children about the dangers
of close physical contact with someone who is sneezing or has fever. In their “Advice
for Parents on Talking to Children About Flu” report, the CDC also suggests teaching
young children the importance of sneezing into a tissue and then throwing that
tissue away immediately. It’s also important to teach your child that if a tissue is not
available to sneeze into his or her arm and not hand – where those germs can
spread easier. Hand washing is also important at a young age. Kids can be taught
proper hand washing and its importance at school and at home.
Of course, the CDC suggests that parents keep children who are sick with the
flu to stay at home. Teaching our young kids responsible behavior when it comes to
contagious diseases also teaches self-care and empathy for others. In “Cleaning to
Prevent the Flu,” the CDC also shows how kids can learn which household objects
most likely will come in contact with flu germs and the best way to avoid them, or
wash their hands after coming in contact with them. The more we educate our
children early about basic self care, the more likely they are to take these basic
precautions on their own.