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Children’s corner: Fight off seasonal illness

As temperatures and humidity rise, mosquitoes and flies come out in force both inside and out, while flowering trees and plants leave allergy sufferers sniffling. And though flu shots help families make it through the winter healthy, the flu and other illnesses have had their chance to mutate and are prepared to launch another attack.

While it's not possible to avoid everything that goes around, especially with school-aged children,   it's best to try to keep illness to a minimum so it doesn't spread throughout the family. Try these simple steps to keep your family as bug- and virus-free as possible.

1. Prepare a medical pouch. Having a kit with medical supplies on-hand will allow you to respond quickly to minor injuries. Must-haves include antiseptic spray or cream, anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, tissues, wipes, sunscreen, band-aids, insect repellent and after-bite ointment. Keep the pouch in your purse or diaper bag, it’s sure to come in handy with children running around in parks and playgrounds.

2. Twinkle, twinkle, little hands. Getting kids to wash their hands is an uphill battle, so focus on the most important times, like before meals, and be sure to scrub. Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds. To ensure impatient children wash for long enough, suggest singing a couple verses of their favorite song: two renditions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" should do it.

3. Keep up with the kitchen. Once again, keeping every surface spotless is not possible or practical. Concentrate on countertops and cutting boards, which are home to the scariest germs, especially after preparing raw meat. Deal with these with soap and hot water, and disinfect countertops with Clorox wipes or similar products.

4. Schedule your sterilizing. Although constant sterilization is unnecessary – little tummies need to fight a few germs in order to build immunity – plastic containers used for storing food should be sterilized regularly. Try cleaning containers on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on seasonal or in-house illnesses and basic build up of grime. If you don’t have a sterilizer, boil items in hot water.

5. Prevention starts at the door. Whenever someone in the house is sick, do a daily wipe-down with disinfectant: doorknobs, faucets, remote controls and anything else in the house touched by a number of people. This significantly lowers the chance of spreading a virus around the family. Make your own disinfectant by adding one teaspoon of bleach to four cups of water.

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