Cold winters create conditions that help certain bacteria and viruses, include the flu and the common cold, thrive. People also tend to hole up and eat more during the coldest months. This combination can put your family’s health at risk. Instead of letting your loved ones get sick, follow these four tips to keep your family healthy this winter.
Make Sure Everyone Gets Plenty of Exercise
People tend to get less exercise during winter, especially when they live in areas with cold, harsh weather. Just because it’s uncomfortable outside, though, doesn’t mean that you should let your family become sedentary. If they don’t get plenty of exercise, they could become depressed, catch more illnesses, and even shorten their lifespans.
You don’t have to force your family outside for them to get exercise. You could sign the kids up for yoga lessons, join a rock climbing gym, or simply encourage them to play games inside. As long as they aren’t sitting around, you’re doing your job well.
Give everyone a bottle of hand sanitizer and make sure they use it when they come home. If a member of your family encounters a virus at work or school, you want to kill it before it spreads to anyone else. Some people can’t use hand sanitizer, so direct them to the kitchen sink instead.
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can also contribute to higher incidences of illness. IAQ often becomes problematic for children and adults during winter because it’s too cold to open windows and clear out stale air. As pet dander and volatile organic compounds from household cleaners accumulate, everyone’s risk of getting sick rises.
Replacing your HVAC system’s filter at least once a month will help reduce the allergens in your home’s air. You should also hire a a professional to clean your air ducts and vents. If your air ducts aren’t clean, you’ll blow dirt throughout your house every time you turn on the furnace.
Get Flu Shots Before the Cold Weather Sets In
Most doctors’ offices and pharmacies start giving flu shots in September, but your family can benefit from getting shots at any time. Most cases of the flu start in December, though, so you should try to get the shots by mid-November since it takes at least one week for the vaccine to become effective.
Don’t believe anti-science rhetoric that you may hear about vaccines. The flu vaccine is safe for most people over the age of six months. Unless someone in your family has a compromised immune system, you should sign them all up for flu shots.
Contrary to what some people believe, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. In some cases, it can cause side effects like soreness, muscle aches, and nausea. These effects will pass within a few days. Even if someone does experience unwanted side effects, it’s better than suffering with the flu for a week or more.
Many people will get sick this winter. As long as you follow these tips, you can lower the risk that members of your family follow this unhealthy winter trend.