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How to Keep Your Family Healthy This Winter
Cold and flu season is upon us. No one in my family will ever forget the October we all had the stomach flu (norovirus) during a days-long power outage. It was horrible beyond words. But, it made me do some heavy duty research on how to prevent the spread of norovirus, the most common cause of gastroenteritis… aka Stomach Flu.
Here is what I found. The norovirus is really, really hard to kill. I am pretty sure that norovirus is what wiped out the dinosaurs. Long after humans are dead, I belieive our planet will still be happily occupied by cockroaches and norovirus. Seriouly, norovirus can live up to 28 days on a surface!
Wash Your hands to Keep Your Family Healthy
We all know this obvious fact, but kids are notorious for not doing a good job of handwashing. Be sure to supervise young childrent, teach them to get soap and water between their fingers, and to sing the alphabet son while they wash. Moms Against Cooties has a great article on teaching kids to wash their hands.
Eat Plenty of Fruits and Veggies
Once again, this is totally obvious, but eating plenty of fruits and veggies is going to keep your immune system functioning more efficiently. I make it a habit to prep all of our veggies the day I go grocery shopping. Sure, it takes a bit of time, but this way I make one mess to clean up instead of daily messes, and kids (and adults) are much more likely to snack on veggies if they are already cleaned, chopped, and ready to eat.
Supplements to Shorten the Duration of Colds
Our doctor told me that Zinc is the only supplement proven to shorten the duration of a cold. The caveat is, you have to start taking it as soon as you start feeling sick. I keep a stash of these Zicam Melts onhand and start gobbling them as soon as I start feeling sick.
Chuck, on the other hand, prefers to use Emergen-C when he is feeling sick.
Disinfect with Hydrogen Peroxide
After one too many sicknesses being spread around our house, I did some heavy research on the best way to prevent the spread of norovirus (more commonly known as The Puking Flu). In short, I learned that hydrogen peroxide is one of the only things that will kill the norovirus. Bleach will also kill norovirus, but I prefer using hydrogen peroxide.
Norovirus is nasty and HEARTY, it can survive on surfaces for up to 28 days, and survive being washed in hot water (so all that puke-laundry you do is NOT killing the virus). How scary is that? To kill it, you should run bleach in your washer between cycles of contaminated clothing and add hydrogen peroxide when washing contaminated clothing.
I buy both the hydrogen peroxide wipes and hydrogen peroxide spray from Amazon. I used the wipes to wipe down bathroom counters, doorknobs, light switches, etc. After handling raw meat, I give my counters a good spray and leave it for 10 minutes.
A few months ago I had a friend home with puking kids. I was able to drop off hydrogen peroxide wipes and spray from my stash for her to use around her house.
Another tip for keeping your family healthy is to use disposable gloves when cleaning up after the norovirus. You can buy 100 for under $10 on Amazon. I suggest keeping a supply of these onhand.
I have also switched to using the Clorox Toilet Wand with disposable heads so we aren’t keeping the germs around in our bathroom. The disposable heads come to about 50 cents apeice, which I consider a steal in exchange for not having fecal contaminated toilet brush.
Have a Supply of Freezer Meals on Hand
It has only been the last couple of years that I have realized it is probably not the best idea to be cooking food when I am caring for puking family members (even if I am still healthy). In fact, the CDC warns against preparing food for others while sick. I always try to keep a few meals in the freezer for times when we are sick.
You can check out my freezer meal posts here.
Get Fresh Air Every Day
Even in the cold (shudder). Even in the winter. Part of the reason we get sick more frequently in the winter is our houses tend to be closed up more. I try to open windows every day no matter what the outside temperature. I also try to get outdoors in the winter, something I have to force myself to do.
Also, airing out your bed before making it (come on, I know you make your bed every day) is a great way to stay healthy.
What are you best tips for keeping your family healthy this winter?