10 Simple Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu

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by: Erin Dower
You can help prevent winter illness in your family with these cold- and flu-fighting tips from the CDC and other health experts. Use this as your checklist for a healthier (and happier) household and a season of fewer sick days for you and your kids.
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Get Vaccinated
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to avoid getting the flu is to get a vaccination. Senior citizens and children under 5 are most strongly urged to get a flu shot, but it's a good idea for anyone.
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Stay Home If You're Sick
We want to teach our kids the importance of working hard, but it's just good sense to stay home from school or work when you're sick, to prevent the spread of cold and flu germs.
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Keep Your Hands Clean
You never know what germs you might be picking up in the course of the day. It's a good idea to wash your hands frequently, especially before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the bathroom. Use warm water and soap, and make sure you lather up for 20 seconds! This fun sparkle germs activity can help teach younger kids about germs and hand-washing.
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Cover Your Nose and Mouth for Sneezes and Coughs
Avoid spreading cold and flu germs to others by coughing or sneezing into a tissue. If none is available, don't cough or sneeze into your hands! Instead, do it into your upper sleeve or the inside bend of your elbow. Turn your head away from nearby people.
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Don't Touch Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth
Germs that might otherwise languish on your hands can easily infiltrate your system when you rub your face. Try to keep your hands away from your face as much as you reasonably can.
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Get Plenty of Rest
When you're sleeping, resting, or relaxing, your immune system uses the downtime to hunt and destroy harmful germs. But lack of sleep and high stress levels leave you susceptible to invasion. Get enough sleep to give your white blood cells the time they need to do their job. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and children need even more.
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Avoid Unnecessary Close Contact
It's an unfortunate fact that a person can spread flu germs a full day before exhibiting symptoms, and then up to five days after that. Steer clear of those with flu-like symptoms – they'll understand. If you're sick, avoid close contact with others. Tell your kids about the importance of keeping space from someone who's sick, and about healthy sharing.
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Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Eating right is always important, but it's particularly essential during cold and flu season. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables can buttress your body's immune system against invaders. If you children aren't veggie fans, try these 15 ways to disguise vegetables.
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Get Fresh Air and Exercise
It's a myth that low temperatures cause cold and flu. In fact, the culprit is increased, prolonged contact with greater numbers of people. Going outside for a walk means you'll get exercise and get away from potential germ-bearers.
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Don't Smoke
This should probably be rule #1. Smoking can make you more susceptible to a range of illnesses, from colds and flu to cancer and heart disease. Children exposed to second-hand smoke can also have an increased risk for several illnesses. Print out these methods and resources for quitting smoking.