How to Keep a Healthy Home During “Germ Season”
It’s easy for germs to spread rapidly, especially when you share close quarters with your loved ones. One person gets sick and the next thing you know, the whole family is coughing, sneezing and bundled up in bed with a box of tissues. To prevent the fast spread of germs, take action when someone in your home starts coming down with the sniffles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking the following steps to help prevent the spread of illness:
Wash your hands: It’s the simplest and most important way to stop the spread of germs. To properly wash your hands, wet your hands with warm water, apply soap and lather well. You should rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds (long enough to sing the alphabet song) and scrub all surfaces. Rinse well, then dry your hands with a clean towel.
Cover your mouth and nose: When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use the crook of your elbow – never your hands. New research found that droplets from coughs or sneezes can travel up to 200 times farther than previously thought, and can hover in a room for hours.
Clean and disinfect surfaces: Even though a surface may look clean to the naked eye, there may be microscopic, infectious germs right in front of you. Some germs can survive for hours or days, which is why it’s important to wash with soap and water and disinfect with a product such as Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. Wipe door handles, light switches, toilet levers, faucets, television remotes, telephones, appliances and cabinet knobs – anything a sick family member may have touched.
Avoid close contact: You don’t necessarily want to sequester your ill family member in his or her room, but you shouldn’t cuddle with them on the couch either. Keep your distance to avoid spreading germs.
Vaccinate: Make sure everyone in the home is up to date on their flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. If you do catch the flu, your symptoms should still be milder than without the vaccine.
Fresh towels and linens: Don’t share towels or linens with anyone who is sick and if possible, dedicate one bathroom for the person who is infected. It’s also a good idea to use paper towels instead of cloth towels while the germs are still spreading. When they are feeling better, wash all of their towels and linens in hot water.