It may not feel like flu season yet if you track weather changes across the country, but the CDC flu activity map gives a different story:
You may be thinking “but it’s not in my state yet” and that may be true. Keep in mind that people travel and so does the flu. It’s only a matter of time before our entire country looks like the board of a weird tic-tac toe game, and that pattern will soon be followed by various sweeps of seasonal fall colors all indicating varying degrees of flu activity. The darker the color, the more intense the activity.
What can you do now? Get a flu shot for you and your kids 6 months and older, assuming no one has an allergy to eggs or had a prior reaction. There really are few people who cannot get the flu shot these days and your pediatrician will let you know if your kids fall into those small groups.
Start talking to your kids now about smart cold and flu prevention. Simple steps such as washing hands before meals and when after using the restroom, after coughing or being coughed or sneezed on go a long way. This is a great time to stock up on water-less soap or products like Purrell so your kids have something instant and pocket sized to use should the need arise.
What if your kids get sick? I’ll toss out more tips as the flu season gets more underway – there are many things we can all do to help our sick family members. Well before we get to that point, though, it’s helpful to understand the big picture. If you say the following three statements a few times over, I promise when the flu hits you’ll know what to do, and what not to do:
1. "the flu is a virus and only cured by time”
2. "antibiotics don’t help viruses”
3. "over the counter cold and cough medications are dangerous for kids”
For now, step 1, be prepared: get everyone flu shots, and stock up on klenex, fluids and portable soap and cleansers. If you really want to get prepared: make some chicken soup and freeze it for later use. Really – that stuff is great for the flu or, as I learned recently, in rebounding from surgery!