With the dreaded cold and flu season upon us, my household is gearing up to protect ourselves and avoid sickness as much as possible. Everyone with cystic fibrosis is aware of how a simple cold or flu can evolve into a much more serious problem with lasting consequences. We all know how important annual flu vaccines are, as well as proper hand-washing and cough etiquette.
However, it’s impossible to completely avoid exposing ourselves to public outings and crowds in our communities before returning home — there’s shopping to do, children to care for, and jobs to work. That’s why it is so important to spend extra time and attention doing small things that shield our homes from germs.
Following are some simple ways (tested and approved by our family during last year’s cold and flu season) to help keep your home healthy and germ-free.
Change your clothes
We come in contact with legions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses while out in public. They’re hard to avoid, and if you take public transportation, work in schools or hospitals, or have young children, your clothing can serve as the perfect means of transporting germs and bacteria that cause sickness.
Before you exhaustingly plop on the couch after a long day, consider changing into fresh and clean clothing to avoid further welcoming flu and colds into your home. It’s unnecessary to create more laundry if you run out for 10 minutes for a quick errand, but after any extended time spent in public, it won’t hurt to strip off those dirty clothes in exchange for some clean ones. It’s also important to change the clothes of school-aged children who often fail at proper hand-washing and cough hygiene. You might have a bit more laundry to do come flu and cold season, but it will be totally worth it if it means your household stays healthy and happy throughout the season!
Wash and disinfect your transient items
The same goes for the items we take with us when out and about in public, our “transient items.” You’ll quickly realize the absurd amount of germs that enter your home if you imagine how many surfaces touch your cellphone, keys, bags, jackets, etc. If you, like me, have small children who are constantly on the ground and putting everything into their mouths, then washing transient items — including diaper bags, blankets, and toys — is doubly important.
Give machine-washable items a good run through the washing machine as well as a long fry in the dryer on high heat, as heat kills germs. For nonwashable items like cellphones and car keys, use alcohol wipes for disinfection — a perfect use for those leftover alcohol wipes from home IVs.
How frequently you clean transient items is up to your household’s discretion, but every couple of days will do a good job.
Wash hands before and after leaving and returning
The most important precaution in the cold and flu season is year-round, efficient hand-washing hygiene. Wash your hands as much as possible, especially before leaving the house and right when you return. Remember, everyone with the flu got it from someone else. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, said, “Don’t be the dreaded spreader.”
I hope these tips aid you in keeping a healthy and happy home for the entirety of this cold and flu season. Happy fall, everyone!
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.