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Drew: How to keep your family safe when one member gets sick

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By Samuetta Hill Drew


Missed days from school, days off from work, doctor’s visits, sleepless nights and fragile temperaments are all a result when your spouse or child gets a common cold and it spreads to other family members. No one is a ‘happy camper;” it’s not a fun household!

According to the American Lung Association, younger children get on average six to eight colds a year and adults get an average of two to four colds, mostly between September through May. A common cold or even the flu spreading throughout your household may seem inevitable, but, there are some precautionary steps which can be taken to help avoid the entire family from getting sick. These precautionary steps can help keep the germs contained and keep them from spreading to other family members.

Since 80 percent of infectious diseases are spread by touch, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is very important to wash your hands thoroughly with a good antibacterial soap. Some experts say sing the “Happy Birthday Song” and others recommend singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” as you wash your hands to make sure it’s long enough to kill the unwanted germs. Even running your hands under plain water is better than not washing your hands at all. Hand sanitizers are good if you’re not by a sink.

Here are some other tips to keep mind:

  • When washing your dishes put a cap full of bleach in your warm water. This helps to keep cold/flu germs from spreading on cooking or eating utensils. Use your dishwasher, if applicable, because the drying heat temperature will help kill those germs.
  • Change your sheets often and your pillow cases almost daily. Wash your comforter and/or blankets, when applicable, frequently during this period.
  • Disinfect all commonly used items and/or areas in your home such as remote controls, computer keyboards, toys, counter surfaces, door knobs, light switches, bedding, faucet handles, etc. Make sure you clean your bathroom and disinfect it thoroughly. You may wish to make your own disinfecting spray by mixing ¼ cup of bleach with one gallon of warm water.
  • Throw away used tissues. Do not place them directly inside the regular trash so germs can spread. It is better to place these used tissues inside a sealable plastic bag and then throw them away.
  • Wash the sick family member’s clothes separately from others in your household. This also applies to washing your sheets and towels.
  • Cough inside the crook of your elbow or a tissue. I know we were all taught to cover your mouths or noses with your hand when we sneeze or cough but the bend of you arm is much better and safer.

You don’t need to panic if someone in the family comes home with a cold/flu, merely Keep an Eye on Safety by using these precautionary measures along with others. You should always follow the doctor’s instructions first and get your flu shots annually.