Cold and flu season is upon us. It feels like germs wait until the coldest part of the year to wreak havoc on our homes. And once one family member gets sick, everyone in the house catches it! How is a parent supposed to compete against microscopic germs? While we might not be able to fight them face to face, there are ways to reduce your contact to germs. Teaching healthy habits now will keep your kids flu free in the future.

Germs get into your system mostly through the nose, mouth and eyes. So if you touch a dirty doorknob and then rub your eyes you’ve just given germs an easy path into you. Obviously we can’t avoid every germ-covered surface but we can avoid touching our faces after. Remind your kids not to rub their eyes or put their fingers in their mouths if they haven’t washed their hands.

Be an over sanitizer. Carry wipes in your bag to use on things like shopping cart handles. Carry hand sanitizer to use after shaking hands or opening doorknobs. It only takes a few seconds to sanitize but it can make a difference. There are even alcohol free hand sanitizers out there so they won’t dry out your skin.

Cover that mouth! Teach your kids the importance of covering their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze. Kids tend to use their hands for these purposes but instead encourage them to use their arm. Pack travel size tissues in their backpacks so they’re prepared at school

Soap is best. Constantly using antibacterial sanitizer can strip your skin of good bacteria. It’s great to use when on the go but when you can, use soap. Studies have shown that washing your hands twice in a row can even be more effective than using antibacterial products.

Don’t touch that knob! You might feel like you’re acting paranoid but opening public bathroom doors and faucets with a paper towel is just good germ prevention.

Taking a few minutes a day to protect yourself from germs can go a long way. Start making these steps part of your daily routine and you’ll protect you and your family from flu season.