It probably feels a little early to be worrying about the flu, but the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the early bird gets to keep their sick days.
Sadly, last year’s flu affected a record number of children for a non-pandemic year, but we can learn a lot from the 2017 outbreak to help protect our families this time around. To prepare for the upcoming flu season, the Red Cross recommends “flu proofing” your entire house, one room at a time. Let’s talk about how the flu spreads, and then we’ll show you how to keep this virus out each corner of your home.
The flu virus tends to travel through mucus droplets, and a sick person can expel as many as two thousand droplets into the air with a single cough. These droplets can reach you from six feet away and are crawling with eager flu viruses looking for a host. It’s easy to see why experts say an entire household can be infected in only a few hours.
If you catch the flu, it will take many days for the symptoms to appear. This entire time you’ll be able to transmit the disease to others—before you even know you’re sick! Once your immune system detects the flu virus it responds with a staggering army of T-cells that smother the virus and slow down its reproduction rate. Unfortunately, this impressive defense system comes at a cost. Fever, soreness, and a complete lack of energy are only a few of the symptoms you’ll experience while your body puts all of its energy into fighting the sickness.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let’s see how to avoid the problem altogether by making our house “flu proof.”
We’ll start in the living room, and you’ll really have to go the extra mile since everyone in your home spends time here. Start by looking for often-touched surfaces, like light switches and remote controls, and make a habit of wiping them down throughout the day. Leaving your cleaning wipes out and in arm’s reach is a good idea, because some experts recommend cleaning these items after every use.
Don’t forget about the importance of circulation. Opening windows while running a ceiling fan will usher out the stale particles floating around the room and replace them with fresh, clean air. Be sure to let in some sunlight while you’re at it.
By the way, Super Bowl parties are notorious for spreading germs. If you have friends over to watch the game, we recommend a stiff policy against double dipping.
Your kitchen can be a tough place to keep clean, but it’s also your secret weapon against the flu. Besides being diligent with your regular scrubbing and disinfecting routines, you should fill your pantry and fridge with flu fighting foods.
According to Nutrition Journal, you’ll want to hoard snacks high in polyphenols, because these foods strengthen your body’s natural response to the flu. If you’re worried about forcing children to eat their vegetables you can relax, because meals high in polyphenols are usually popular around the table. Berries, plums, apples, as well as green tea and cocoa are among the treats that will keep your family’s immune system fighting strong.
You may also want to look into a supplement called AHCC, which has been developed to stabilize immune systems. You can read about AHCC here to decide if it’s right for your family.
You probably don’t even want to think about how many bodily fluids live in the bathroom, but fortunately there’s a simple rule for keeping this room from spreading the flu: don’t share towels! Let each family member use their own, and be sure to wash them often. If you have guests, leave out some individual paper towels like it’s a fancy hotel. They’ll throw away the ones they use, hopefully along with any viruses they would have left behind.
The bedroom presents the biggest challenge. We don’t have to tell you to change and wash your sheets regularly, but if you really want to be safe you and your partner should spend the night in separate beds, or even separate rooms. Sleeping in the same bed under a different set of sheets is a decent compromise.
Sure, that’s a little extreme, but so is the flu.