While it’s possible to get the flu year-round, the fall and winter months are prime flu season. Seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February. With flu activity expected to continue in the next few weeks, Suncoast Academy preschool wants to give parents a few helpful tips for avoiding the flu or making a quick recovery, if your child does get sick.
Teach Children the Proper Way to Wash Their Hands
Although this one may seem obvious it is worthwhile to repeat. Washing hands frequently is one of the best ways to avoid catching the flu. Recent studies have shown that many people simply do not wash their hands long enough to be effective. Teach your child to sing the ABCs twice when washing their hands. This typically takes about 20 seconds and helps ensure that all germs have been removed. In addition, teach children to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom and when coming home from school or work. Proper hand washing will help keep germs away.
Teach Your Child Where to Direct Their Sneeze
When a child sneezes, their initial reaction may be to sneeze into their hand. By doing this, they increase their chances of spreading germs Instead, teach your child to sneeze into a tissue. If they feel a sneeze coming on and there’s no tissue in sight, you should instruct them to aim for their elbow or shoulder. While the elbow or shoulder doesn’t seem ideal, it helps limit the spread of germs. Coughing into the elbow or shoulder, ensures the virus won’t get on their hands, where they can spread it to every object they touch.
If your child does end up getting sick be sure to keep them home so the flu isn’t spread to others. Make sure your child is fever free for at least 24 hours before sending them back to school or daycare. Not only do they need rest to overcome the flu but you also want to make sure they drink plenty of liquids and minimize the amount of people they come into contact with.
When to Seek Medical Attention for the Flu
Most children recover from the flu at home however, children younger than 5 years of age are at high risk of serious flu-related complications. It’s estimated that more than 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to flu complications each year in the United States. Many more have to go to a doctor, an urgent care center, or the emergency room because of flu.
Warning signs that your child should see a doctor include:
- Difficulty breathing
- A fever of 100°F or higher under the arm, 101°F orally, or 102°F rectally
- Coughing that produces blood
- Symptoms that last more than 2 weeks or seem to get worse with time
With the right plan, you can help avoid the flu as best as possible and your child can return to enjoying a healthy environment.