Swine Flu: A Guide for Parents
Freaked out about the H1N1 virus? What you need to know about the new vaccine, symptoms, treatment, prevention and more
You probably already know all about how to prevent the spread of germs, but in an outbreak like this, it can't hurt to be a little more vigilant. Here's a rundown of easy things you can do, starting today.
• This one's a no-brainer but bears repeating: wash your hands frequently, and make sure your kids do the same. It's a good idea to get into the habit of doing it as soon as you walk in the door, before meals and food prep, post-potty and after touching pets. Some experts question the effectiveness of hand-washing in preventing swine flu, which is primarily transmitted by inhaling particles in the air. But it certainly can't hurt, especially for kids, known to wipe their nose with their hand and put anything and everything in their mouth. And it can prevent you from getting other nasty bugs.
• Take a moment to clean germ hot spots, like tables, doorknobs, desks and kitchen counters, with a disinfectant. Look for products that contain bleach or alcohol.
• Keep your family's immune system strong with regular sleep, and lots of fruits and veggies. If you know anyone who's been sick, stay away for now.
Out and about:
• Try to keep up the frequent hand-washing, especially after trips to the playground.
• If you don't have a sink handy, use an alcohol-based sanitizer gel or wipe. Look for ones that contain at least 60% alcohol.
• Try to avoid crowded areas. Consider wearing a mask if you're in a public place where lots of germs are being transmitted, like doctor's offices or public transportation.
• Wash your hands or use sanitizer after handling money.
• Use your own pen when signing credit card slips.
• Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and remind your kiddos to do the same.
• Throw your used tissue in the trash instead of stuffing it in your pocket.
• Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, which give germs a fast track to infection.
• Remind kids not to share cups, utensils and plates with friends.