Fortify Your Home: Essential Steps to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season

Cold and flu season is quickly approaching, and your family must take steps to prepare. You can use various research-backed methods to fortify your home against illness. Here are essential steps to complete before the sniffles start.

1. Swap Your Air Filters

When was the last time you swapped your air filters? Consider changing them before cold and flu season arrives unless they’re brand new. Ask your landlord for replacements if it’s their responsibility. People stay inside 90% of the time on average, which isn’t ideal since air pollution is up to five times higher indoors than outdoors. Filters are great for trapping all the dust, germs and bacteria, but you must swap them out to keep all that buildup from circulating through your vents.

2. Get Your Flu Shot

The flu shot works wonders to fortify your home against illness. Even if someone catches a bug, the vaccine greatly lessens their symptoms. People who get their annual vaccination are 40% less likely to need to go to the hospital if they get the flu.

3. Clean High-Traffic Areas

You know how kids can be — fingerprints appear out of nowhere and surfaces mysteriously become sticky. Keeping up with it all takes time, even if you’re a stay-at-home parent. Luckily, high-traffic areas are the best places to clean when preparing for cold and flu season. Sanitize the surfaces your family frequently touches with warm, soapy water. Use an alcohol-based cleaner if you don’t have detergent. You won’t need to change your routine much for this step since you only need to focus on handles, doorknobs, light switches, toilets and countertops.

4. Try Natural Remedies

Although most natural remedies don’t replace doctor’s visits or cold medicine, many are helpful. For example, eucalyptus leaves are natural air purifiers, so you’re more likely to stay healthy. Hang them on your shower head to let the hot water’s steam activate them. They’ll make your bathroom smell amazing.

5. Do Laundry More Often

Pillowcases have a lot of bacteria — around 17,000 times more than toilet seats after only one week without a wash. Everything from sweat to old skin cells builds up on them quickly. Even though laundry might not be your favourite activity, it could help protect your immune system. Wash your sheets and towels at least twice weekly to prepare for cold and flu season. They touch your eyes, nose and mouth often, so regularly cleaning them can keep you from catching something.

6. Sanitize Your Cleaning Tools

Most people assume they don’t need to sanitize their sponges, scrubbers or mops because they touch cleaning products. Surprisingly, they hold a lot of bacteria. You’ll spread germs if you keep using them when dirty. Luckily, the fix is easy — you just need to wash them with an alcohol-based cleaner, chlorine or soapy water. Make things even easier by giving them a quick rinse or letting them soak right after using them.

7. Stock up on Supplies

Children tend to get sick even when their families take every precaution — parents know this better than anyone. Stock up on supplies just in case one of your own starts sniffling or coughing. Ensure you have cough drops, tissues, pain medicine and a thermometer.

8. Limit How Many Germs Enter

Kids bring home lots of germs when they return from school every day. According to one study, families with four children spend 58% of the year sick with viral infections, while households without children sit at only 7% on average. Schools are a free-for-all when it comes to illnesses. Limit how many germs enter your home by having your child remove their shoes, change their clothes, take a shower or wash their hands right after walking through the front door.

9. Cook Nutritious Meals

Cooking nutritious meals is an easy way to prepare your family for cold and flu season. The best part about this step is that you don’t need to make fancy dinners every night — you can simply feed everyone an immune-boosting snack.

Plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains have natural health benefits to protect you from sickness. For example, studies show people who eat blueberries are 33% more resistant to colds since they contain antioxidants. Finding something your family enjoys will be easy since many choices exist.

10. Use a Humidifier

Getting the humidifier out of storage is one of the best parts about fall since it helps prevent scratchy throats and congestion. On top of making it easier to breathe, it can prevent sickness from spreading. Viruses have a harder time traveling through the air when it has around 50% humidity.

11. Get Everyone to Bed

Even though children — or parents— may want to stay up late scrolling through their phones, it’s better to get to bed on time. Multiple studies show sleep boosts your immune system and can keep you from catching the flu. Try to get eight hours every night and do your best to wake up well-rested. If you’re restless at night, take short naps during the day.

12. Stay Hydrated

Make sure your family stays hydrated in preparation for cold and flu season. Experts recommend drinking water instead of coffee, soda or juice. Your body can fight off illness much easier if you keep it healthy.

13. Wash Your Hands Often

Research shows people catch colds 16%-21% less often when they wash their hands regularly. Clean them with warm, soapy water after touching your face, going outside or being near someone sick. It keeps germs from spreading and bacteria from building up, protecting you from catching the flu.

Keep Your Home Healthy

Even though nothing can guarantee protection against cold and flu season, these essential steps can fortify your home against it. It should be pretty easy to work any of them into your routine and get your kids on board.

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I'm Hayley and this is us; working parents to three tiny wild ones. Whether it's travel, food, lifestyle or just a healthy dose of parenting reality, there's something for everyone here. So sit back, get comfy and start scrolling!

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