Winter can be harsh on your health when cold and flu are common and even other winter illnesses tend to linger longer. So, it pays to take care of your health and home to stay healthy this winter. If you have elders or children at home, it becomes especially important to take some smart steps to prevent the spread of illnesses.
Here are some steps that can help:
- Use cleaning supplies that disinfect: Cleaning supplies with labels like “kills 99% of germs” or “antibacterial” may not have disinfectant properties. So, you should ensure that you use cleaning supplies that actually disinfect.
- Ensure your kids wash their hands properly: Rather than the kind of soap, it’s actually the time you spend scrubbing under hot water (20-25 seconds at the least) that cleans the hands. So, make sure your kids know this.
- Avoid sharing: Don’t share your foods, drinks and utensils.
- Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean: Since these two places harbor and spread most of the germs, make sure to scrub and keep them clean in winter.
- Don’t neglect exercise and a good night’s sleep: Though dipping temperature can give you the perfect excuse to skip your exercise routine, stick to it to fortify your immune system and stay healthy. Make sure that you eat nutritious diet and have a good night’s sleep as they too are essential for your overall well-being.
- Try to keep your entrance germ-free: Every day, when you come home, you are bringing in a lot of germs with you that you have collected all through the day at your office and while using the public transportation and other public spaces. Even your shoes, phones, keys etc have traces of these germs. So, try to have an entrance routine and keep these things at their proper places (ideally, near the entrance) rather than throwing them here and there or taking them to the bedroom. When cleaning, try to wipe the surfaces that you touch when you enter your home (like the doorway knobs, key holder, shoe-rack light switches etc) to keep germs away from your entrance as much as is possible.
- Get your winter clothes laundered: Before you start using your winter clothing like scarves, hats, coats, gloves etc (many of which go near your face, nose or eyes), make sure to launder them. Else, you may run the risk of allergy or infection. Even after use, try to get them in the washer regularly to keep them clean.
- Stop bad habits: Rubbing your face, eyes or nose, or biting your nails are a total no-no as they help spread germs.
- Breathe in fresh air: Though you may be tempted to box yourself in as the temperature dips, remember to open your windows when it’s not too cold to let the fresh air come in. Proper air circulation is important to avoid breathing in the same germs repeatedly, which is exactly the case when you keep your windows and doors closed for a long time.
At home, you often touch these places and yet, forget to clean them on a regular basis. This winter, make sure you clean:
- Your phone
- Door locks and knobs
- Remote controls
- The outer and inner surfaces of your briefcase, laptop bag or purse, especially their bottom that comes in contact with different surfaces where you put them
- Your computer keyboard and mouse
- Light switches
- Kid’s toys
- The interior of your dishwasher
- Spigots, faucets and their handles
- Containers that stock your cleaning supplies
Living with an ill family member
While taking care of the sick person is important, it’s also crucial that you take steps to avoid the spread of disease to other members of the house. Here are some things you can do:
- Wash the ill person’s bed sheets and pillowcases (along with cleaning the pillows too, if possible).
- Rather than holding the ill person’s laundry to your chest, utilize a hamper and use a disinfectant to wipe it down once you have put everything in the wash.
- If possible, keep the ill person confined to a specific section of the house (say, his/her bedroom) and avoid others from coming in close contact.
- Supply the person with adequate tissues and containers to throw up. Make sure to dispose of the garbage and ensure that no dirty tissues or containers are lying there for days.
- Clean any shared space (bathroom) or surfaces (the door knob, bedside table etc) that the ill person might have touched.
- Avoid sleeping with or cuddling the sick person even when there’s a strong urge (except in cases where it’s a sick child and he/she needs the mother to be around to comfort him/her).
- To ensure good air quality, use clean air filter, try to circulate fresh air and use humidifiers (the latter is especially helpful in speedy recovery of people affected by cold).
With these simple cleaning and hygiene tips, you no longer need to dread the winter season.