The days are shorter and the temperatures are cooler, and this also means the dreaded cold and flu season is upon us. Falling ill with a cold or the flu can seemingly hit out of nowhere and disrupt just about every part of you and your family’s daily life. We’ve put together some handy tips to help you through the cold and flu season.
Sometimes it may seem like your child is sick with back to back colds, and according to Raising Children Network, on average, Preschoolers can get up to 6 – 12 colds in a year. This is because young children have not built up the immunity to a lot of viruses yet. While viruses can attack you all year round, colds, flus and other respiratory illnesses are typically more prevalent during the autumn and winter seasons. People spend more time indoors during the cooler months, which allows viruses to pass more easily from one person to another. The cold, dry air can also affect the respiratory system, making it more susceptible to germs.
When it comes to the cold and flu, prevention and preparation are key. For adults, getting the flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine is the first and most crucial step in protecting against these two respiratory illnesses.
Preventative actions, such as washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and getting enough sleep can also help you avoid getting sick.
However, despite your best preventative efforts, the time may come this winter when you or somebody in your family start to feel a little scratch in your throat or a fever coming on.
By taking steps ahead of time to prepare yourself and your family, and by assembling a cold and flu survival kit, you’ll be more prepared for whenever illness strikes, allowing you to rest and avoid spreading germs.
The tips and resources below will help you learn about actions you can take to protect yourself and others from cold and flu, and help stop the spread of germs.
- Get a flu shot. It is important to get the influenza vaccination every year to continue to be protected against the flu, because it wears off after three to four months and flu strains change over time.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And when you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick and keep your child home if they are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. Your child should also stay home from childcare or school if they are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and teach your children to do the same. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and teach your children to do the same. Washing your hands thoroughly and often, will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and teach your children to do the same. Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- Antibiotics won’t help. Antibiotics do not reduce cold or flu symptoms, as these illnesses are caused by viruses. Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Good hydration helps clear congestion. When you’re sick, make sure you drink eight cups of water a day. A better hydrated body helps the immune system stop the cold symptoms.
- Take a COVID test. It is important to take a COVID test as a precaution if you have symptoms.
IMPORTANT: If cold and flu symptoms persist or worsen, see your GP for advice.
Prepare a cold and flu survival kit to have on hand at home, ready for if cold or flu strikes you or your family this season. Stock the following in your kit: