These days every time you turn on the news or log on to the internet the first thing you see or hear about is the Ebola virus which has claimed many lives in West Africa and has been diagnosed in a couple of people in Dallas.

You also hear about Entrovirus D68 which has killed a couple of children in the United States.  I don’t  have to tell anyone how serious both viruses are.

With everyone focused on those 2 viruses it’s easy to forget that there are many other viruses out there, most not as deadly, but can be serious none the less.  Last August my 11 month old grandson was hospitalized for a viral infection caused by one of the Adeno viruses, thankfully he made a quick recovery and is fine now.  It did leave us wondering how this baby who is cared for at home by his mom could have caught this virus.

Flu and cold season is just around the corner.  Like most folks we are concerned about our kids and are talking about ways to reduce the risk of getting sick.  There’s no sure way to guarantee that you or your kids won’t catch any viruses but there are ways to hopefully reduce the chances of getting sick.

Most important is prevention!  I’m sure most parents constantly remind their kids to wash their hands but do parents practice good hygiene themselves?  In this instant leading by example is really the best way to go.

I’m not a healthcare professional nor do I know much about the above mentioned viruses, but in our family we are all “germphobes”.  I think when it comes to prevention good personal hygiene and everyday common sense goes a long way.  Here are a few tips we use to reduce our risk of getting sick.  They don’t always work, but we feel that we at least did everything we could towards prevention short of putting the kids in an isolation bubble.

1.  WASH YOUR HANDS!  I can not stress the importance of proper hand washing with plain old soap and water.  Here is the CDC’s recommendation about when and how to wash hands:

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
How should you wash your hands?
    • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
    • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
2.  Using anti-bacterial products kills bacteria but will NOT kill viruses!  You can use them after you wash your hands with soap and water.   When my twin grandbabies were in the NICU we had to wash our hands with soap and water and then use hand sanitizer before we could visit them.  
3.  Do not sneeze or cough in anyone’s face.  Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.  If you don’t have a tissue handy cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
4.  Avoid dense crowds and crowded places.  You don’t know if others practice the same hygiene as you do,  assume that they don’t and stay out of sneezing and coughing range.   If you must be in an enclosed or crowded area such as an elevator try to keep as much distance as possible.  I know it sounds rude, but in crowded elevators I try to move to the back so front facing passengers can’t sneeze or cough directly into my space.  
5.  When opening doors in public places such as public restrooms use a paper towel or tissue to grasp door handles, don’t touch them with your bare hands.  
6.  If you are sick stay home.  If your child is sick keep him home.  Stay away from anyone who is sick.
7.  Keep hands and fingers from touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.  
8.  Get a flu shot for your entire family.  Flu shots only protect against some viruses, but at least you’re protected from those it does cover.  
9.  If you do get cold and flu symptoms call your doctor and follow her directions.  Try not to rush to over crowded ER’s, you could potentially catch viruses there.  
10.   If someone in the household gets sick toss out toothbrushes and get new ones. 
11.  Disinfect toys, TV remotes, phones, and other things in your home that everyone handles.  
12.  Clean and disinfect bathroom and kitchen surfaces, germs and bacteria love moist areas.  
There are no guarantees that you won’t catch a bug this winter, or any other time.  Practicing good hygiene year round and disinfecting things around the house will help prevent you and your kids from getting sick.  
To learn more about viruses click here for  the CDC website.