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Steer Clear of the Common Cold

During cold and flu season, keeping your family healthy can be a challenge, especially with children. Adults may know how to avoid the common cold, but kids may not have the good health habits that lead to prevention. You can help your kids by teaching them these simple practices.

  • Hand washing. Washing hands regularly -- and correctly -- is one of the best ways to keep your kids healthy. Teach them to wash their hands with warm water and soap, making sure to wash their wrists and under their fingernails. Hand washing should last for about 20 seconds, which is the amount of time needed to hum “Happy Birthday,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or the alphabet twice. Knowing when to wash is also important. Make sure kids know to wash their hands after using the restroom, before eating and after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses.
  • Keeping their fingers away from their faces. Children often rub their eyes or stick their fingers in their mouths (or noses) without much thought. This puts cold germs on the fast track to causing infection. Teach your children that putting their fingers in their mouths or noses spreads germs and can make them sick.
  • Throwing tissues away after use. Kids may absentmindedly stash used tissues in pockets or backpacks or leave them in their desks at school. Leaving used tissues anywhere other than the trash can is a sure way to spread cold germs.
  • Covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing. When children learn to cover their mouths, they learn more than just good manners. They learn how to protect all their friends and classmates from germs that cause infection. Sneezing into a tissue, throwing it away and washing hands is the gold standard for prevention. If a tissue is not available, it’s better to cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow rather than the hands to avoid spreading germs.

These early skills can lead your child to a lifetime of healthy habits that prevent the common cold.

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