Staying Healthy During the Cold and Flu Season
Posted on December 29, 2021 by CHS
The cold and flu season has arrived. Fear not! There are simple and cost-effective ways of keeping the children in your care safe. It is incredibly important for caregivers to speak to their children about the dos and don’ts of staying healthy during the cold and flu season. While in the care of child care providers, it is critical that children are in an environment that reduces the chance of illnesses spreading. It is beneficial for all if a child care provider has a few health-related resources on hand.
Illnesses can spread in many ways. Some of the more common ways illness can spread are through small droplets in the air (aerosol particles), body waste, skin contact, or other bodily functions. Germs can spread from person to person or from surface to person. Always be aware of objects near your eyes, nose, mouth, or an injury that is healing. Here is a kid-friendly resource for explaining germs, bacteria, and more. Caregivers, child care providers, and children should be knowledgeable about how illnesses spread in order to better protect themselves and others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, the cold and flu season has an estimated annual time frame of fall to winter. Typically, it starts around the month of October and ends in the month of February. However, it is not uncommon for cold and flu season to end closer to the month of May.
Here are some tips for keeping the children in your life safe:
- Avoid close contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep a distance from any members of your household. Children who attend school have already had to practice social distancing and can apply what they have learned to this situation.
- Stay home when you are sick: Stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. Children who are sick recover more quickly if they spend time resting at home rather than exerting themselves at school.
- Cover your mouth and nose: Remember to use tissues or sneeze into the crook of your arm. If you cannot, move away from others when you need to sneeze or cough. Teaching a child sneezing and coughing etiquette when they are young helps make the action more automatic.
- Clean your hands: Washing your hands often will help protect yourself from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Here are some activities that can help explain to children how the transfer of germs occurs..
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth: Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth can result in the spread of germs. One solution is to use a clean cloth or tissue. Make sure to wash your hands before you touch these areas.
- Practice other good health habits: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces 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 to stay healthy. If possible, contact your health care provider and ask about current vaccines.
No one likes feeling ill, especially children. Sometimes it is hard for children to remember the steps to take and why it is so important. Conversations about health and safety help remind children about their part in avoiding illness. Guiding them to recognize the signs of a cold or flu builds their knowledge of health and gives them the confidence to ask for help. The CDC and Mayo Clinic offer resources for the flu. You can also visit the CDC and Mayo Clinic website for resources about the common cold.
Children’s Home Society of California (CHS) offers a free educational brochure, When Is Your Child Too Ill to Go to Child Care? which can help parents and child care providers decide whether or not children in their care are too sick to attend activities, child care programs, or school. View our selection of free Family Education Brochures for other helpful topics.
Here are additional resources:
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives: Tips on hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Information for Schools & Child Care Providers: A small collection of resources for cleaning/disinfecting, vaccination clinics, and guidance.
- Cold Remedies: What works and what doesn’t: A few suggestions for cold symptoms.
- Mayo Clinic – Influenza (Flu): Possible symptoms and remedies.