Presents are not the only thing hiding during the holiday season. With more travel, parties, family and shopping, germs hide out and often show up uninvited to spread contagious illnesses that can put a damper on holiday fun. Help prevent spreading germs by knowing where germs are hiding out.
"The most common hiding spots for germs during the holiday season often include places and activities that involve their primary mode of transmission: people," says Ray Tsai, M.D., Senior Vice President of Dallas Market Operations at Children's Health℠. "Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent getting sick without sacrificing the fun and festivities of the holidays."
Here are four places and activities that can carry increased risk for germs, and how you can help keep your family healthy and happy this holiday season.
1. Family gatherings
There's nothing better than spending time with people you love. However, if you are nursing a cold or recovering from an illness, hold off on hugs, handshakes and kisses. Likewise, if a relative mentions they have been sick, politely keep your child at a distance and spread the love with smiles and great conversations.
One of the best defenses against sharing and picking up germs is the easiest one – practicing good hand hygiene. Encourage your child to wash their hands properly by lathering soap for at least 20 seconds (suggest they sing a song while they wash!). Hand sanitizer is another great option, especially if you are on the go.
Travel takes an uptick over the holidays, and germs love to hitch a ride. Germs don't restrict themselves to just the enclosed area of a plane, car or train, either. They hang out in places like bathrooms, doorknobs, handrails, ticket kiosks and security bins in airports, rest areas and gas stations along the way. Proper hand hygiene is the best way you can help prevent spreading germs. Make sure to get flu shots before you hit the road, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Whether you and the kids are at the grocery store filling the cart with ingredients for holiday cookies or at the mall whittling down your gift-shopping list, germs are amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds. With hands and fingers touching shopping carts, payment keypads, handrails and money, hand washing is vital to keeping germs at bay. Consider using a cover or blanket when placing your child in a cart. Sanitizing wipes and gels can also reduce the risk of picking up and spreading germs further when you are on the go.
4. Visiting Santa
No one spreads good cheer like Santa. But, getting a photo in the lap that has held hundreds of other kids can also mean unwittingly spreading and picking up unwanted germs, too. If your child has a weakened immune system or a cold, consider holding your child next to Santa, so you can capture a family memory without worry of germs.
The reality is, germs are everywhere – but that doesn't mean you have to spend the holiday season at home to avoid colds, flu or other illnesses. A flu shot and taking time to wash hands properly are key to helping keep your children healthy. That way, you can spend the holiday enjoying the best gift of all: time spent with family and friends.
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