(BPT) - From pencils and paper to snacks and show-and-tell treasures - kids share virtually everything at school. While parents agree sharing is a good skill for kids to learn, it's certainly not the case when it comes to germs, particularly during cold and flu season. Germs are lurking everywhere and are simply unavoidable. And where there are germs, there can often be sickness. That dreaded first cough, sneeze and sniffle surely brings about anything but joy in the home.
'Every parent has experienced those 'ew' moments where kids are kids and regardless of what we do to keep them healthy, sick strikes,' says Dr. Nina Shapiro, leading pediatric doctor and mom of two. 'I can certainly speak firsthand on those cringe-worthy moments where the ew is simply unavoidable and the best way to battle it is by being prepared to get kids back on their feet - so you can get a little rest too.'
Here are Dr. Shapiro's top tips for keeping kids and families healthy during cough, cold and flu season.
1. Sing the joys of washing hands well
Washing hands well is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kids should regularly wash hands at home and at school. Make scrub time fun by singing while washing - the goal is to wash for 20 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes to sing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' once or 'Happy Birthday' twice.
2. Wrangle those hands and avoid the nose and mouth
Children have busy hands and those tiny fingers often end up in ew-filled places. It's important to regularly remind kids to keep their hands out of their nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of germs. Seven in 10 school nurses cite unsanitary habits among children like nose picking or not washing their hands as the top cause for germs spreading among kids at school, according to the recent SchoolNurse.com 'Ew-dentification' survey conducted by the pediatric brands of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.
3. Be a flu-buster and get vaccinated
It's very likely at some point during the fall and winter season that your children will come in contact with the flu virus. This year's vaccination is now available, so schedule an office visit for the whole family. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their guidelines requiring children ages six months to eight years to receive two doses of the flu shot this season if they have received less than two doses of the flu vaccine prior to July 2015.
4. Ease aches and pains and rest, rest, rest
With flu season upon us, parents should be armed with an OTC pain reliever and fever reducer like Children's Advil(R) which reduces fever fast and keeps it down for up to eight hours, while also relieving aches and pains in children as young as 2 years (based on reducing fever below 100 F). When kids are more comfortable, they are able to get the extra rest their bodies need to fight off illness, ultimately also giving relief to worried parents.
5. Keep your wellness arsenal fully stocked
Flu isn't the only sickness kids may encounter. According to the survey of school nurses, colds, stomach bugs and coughs also frequently spread around schools. For cough and colds, an effective medicine like Children's Robitussin(R) Cough & Chest Congestion offers relief by breaking up chest congestion and relieving coughs. If a child is suffering from cold symptoms, a medicine like Children's Dimetapp(R) is great option for relieving stuffy noses and ongoing sniffles. Stock up now so when sickness strikes, you are ready and your child can feel quick relief - no emergency trip to the store required.
6. Take a deep breath and use that humidifier
Every family should have a humidifier to get through the cold and flu seasons. By adding moisture to the dry air, you can help your child breathe easier, particularly at night when he or she is trying to sleep.
For more information and tips for coping when sick happens, visit: www.sickjustgotreal.com.