5 Tips for Avoiding the Flu this Year

Cold and flu season is upon us once again! No one likes to be sick, least of all, kids. Help your children (and yourself) avoid the flu this year with these tips. 

1. Keep hands clean!

You’ve probably heard this advice thousands of times before, but that’s because it really does prevent the spread of illness. Help your kids remember that they need to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice should do the trick.

The Cinnamon Trick from Say Boo to the Flu Blog is another great way to teach your children about the importance of hand washing:

Step 1:
Rub a little vegetable oil on your child’s hands, then sprinkle with cinnamon “germs” while explaining that real germs are too small to see. Be sure to tell your kids not to touch their noses or eyes while cinnamon is on their hands.

Step 2:
Have your child wash his or her hands without soap. The “germs” won’t come off.

Step 3:
Add soap—and watch those “germs” disappear!

2. Preemptively fight the flu with a flu shot or nasal spray.

The flu vaccine, while not 100% effective, can help prevent the flu and lower it’s severity. The flu shot is recommended for healthy kids and adults 6 months and older, and the nasal spray is recommended for those between the ages of 2 and 49 (flu.gov). And if your child hasn’t had the flu vaccine before and they are younger than 9 years old, they might need two doses at least four weeks apart for maximum effectiveness (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention).

3. Avoid spreading the illness.

Cold and flu germs they can reach a distance of up to 6 feet through sneezes and coughs. Make sure that your child knows they should always cover their mouth with a tissue or their elbow. Teach him or her this simple rhyme, “Cough and sneeze? Elbow please!” to help them remember to use their elbow instead of their hands.


Some cold and flu germs can survive up to 48 hours or more on hard surfaces, so clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces often, especially doorknobs, handles, and toys (Mayo Clinic). Germs can survive on porous surfaces, like fabric and tissues, for a much shorter period of time–another good reason to sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.

4. Stay healthy.

Good nutrition, hydration, exercise, and adequate rest help the immune system resist disease and helps to keep you healthy. During the winter months, physical activity may decrease, so help keep your child active with some fun indoor exercises.

5. Set a good example.

Parents and teachers often lead children by example, sometimes without even realizing it! So make sure you are setting a healthy one. Keep your hands clean, get the vaccine, avoid spreading diseases and stay healthy, and help your kids do the same!

Stay healthy this winter! And if your child does get sick, here’s a reminder of Smart Lunches’ sick day policy:

On sick days, the lunches are still delivered, since our caterers are up preparing the meals early in the morning. Sometimes the sick child will ask a parent to swing by the school and get their lunch, but usually the school will find someone else who can enjoy the meal. If your child has the flu and isn’t going to be in school for a while (the CDC recommends that your child stays home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone), let us know two business days in advance, and we’ll cancel your order.

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