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7 Tips and Resources to Keep Your Family Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

After settling into a new school year, it’s only a matter of time until the weather starts to get cooler and cold and flu season starts. The common cold results in 22 million lost days of school for students meaning millions of days of lost learning and millions of opportunities for students to fall behind.

Regardless of how much handwashing and antibacterial gel you use, how insistent you are about taking at trip to the sink to rid little hands of germs upon setting foot into your house, or the fact that your family has gotten yearly flu shots, there is always a chance that you could get sick. Since being sick is never any fun for parents and kids alike, here are six helpful tips and resources to keep your family healthy during cold and flu season.

Teach good hygiene to keep kids healthy. Research shows that teaching good hygiene habits, such as hand washing, can help eliminate lost school days by 26 percent. The Healthy Habits Program reinforces the practice of healthy habits in helping to keep students well through three key areas of healthy habits: hand/surface hygiene, nutrition and physical activity. This collaborative effort from the PTA, National Education Association (NEA), and Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides teachers and parents with downloadable materials to help educate students and families about healthy habits through ready-to-use, standardized lesson plans, a year-long activity calendar for parents, a classroom supply list, tips on helping families and classrooms to stay and healthy, and more.

Be aware of the different illnesses that are more common among certain age groups and how they spread. The Healthy Habits Program provides helpful information about the kinds of illnesses more commonly spread among young children (ages 3-5) compared to elementary school ages and older students.

Know the difference between cold and flu symptoms. The cold and flu have some common symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes but there are also distinct symptoms of each illness. Knowing the symptoms helps parents figure out what their child has faster in order to provide relief in the form of over the counter medicine.

Have the right medicines on hand to treat symptoms. According to statistics from and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), 5 out of 10 parents report that over the counter medicines have helped keep their child from missing school. Make sure that your medicine cabinet is well-stocked and has a variety of over the counter medicines for adults and kids that aren’t expired.

Know how to administer over the counter medicine safely. Often times symptoms are the worst at night and rather than desperately grabbing for whatever you might have on hand, make sure you have the right medicine to treat the symptoms and you’re administering it as directed on the Drug Facts label.

Know possible prescription drug interactions. According to, cold and flu medicines have active ingredients that are designed to treat four basic categories of symptoms including pain/fever, coughing, thick mucus, and a congested nose. Refer to this handy chart to check to make sure that what you’re giving yourself won’t interact with any prescription medication you might be taking.

Store medicine up and away. Sometimes it’s too easy for us to forget to store medicine out of reach of small hands especially when we’ve been up all night taking care of a sick child but leaving medicines out on the counter is not safe. wants to keep families safe by ensuring that everyone is storing medicines safely and practicing safe medicine disposal.

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