Prevention tips for the common cold

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are preventative actions that can be taken to prevent the spread of germs in your home.

Cold season is fast approaching.  Although there is no cure for the common cold, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the of spread germs.  Michigan State University Extension recommends the following 10 easy tips to help prevent the spread of colds in your home.

Wash hands.  Washing hands literally rinses germs away. Use soap and warm, running water to best spread the soap evenly along hands.  Don’t forget to scrub between the fingers, under fingernails and up past the wrist area to get the best benefit of this practice. 

  1. Wash for a minimum of 20 seconds – have young children recite their ABC’s to make sure their hands are under the faucet long enough.
  2. Use disposable towels.  Consider using paper or other disposable towels instead of cloth.  Bacteria and viruses can live on cloth towels for hours.
  3. Cover sneezes and coughs.  We’ve all seen how the germs from a sneeze or cough can spread in the air, so teach family members to use the crook of the elbow or a tissue to cover up – model if necessary.  If hands or tissues are used to guard a cough or sneeze, wash them immediately.
  4. Throw away tissues.  We teach our children to sneeze, cough and blow their noses in tissues, but do we do we teach them what to do afterwards?  Family members should learn to throw their tissues away and immediately wash hands. 
  5. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.  This is the easiest way to be exposed, and expose others, to germs.  Encourage family members to wash hands frequently before and after touching these areas.
  6. Keep toys clean.  Toys often carry germs.  Regularly wash children’s toys in warm, soapy water to kill bacteria and viruses.
  7. Don’t share cups.  Using paper cups may be helpful in avoiding the spread of germs.  Having a dispenser of small cups in key areas like the kitchen and bathroom can help family members make it a habit.
  8. Ventilate.  Open the windows when the weather permits because germs love stagnant air.  Keeping the air moist with a humidifier can help with nose and throat irritation.
  9. Wipe up germs.  Germs can live on surfaces for up to 3 hours so use a disinfectant on things that are touched a lot; doorknobs, handrails, light switches, phones, remote controls and counter tops.
  10. Don’t smoke or allow smoking.  Smoking can irritate the nose and lungs and drastically increase children’s susceptibility to colds.  Make your home environment as smoke free one.   

The Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio State University Medical Center provide additional information on cold prevention.

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