5 ways to prepare your family for sick season

Summer is winding down and that means our little loves will be heading off to school for the very first time. While school can be an amazing part of a young child’s life, it also exposes them to germs in a way that significantly increases the number of patients in my waiting room come September and October. Why infections seem so much more common in fall and winter is complicated but has much to do with more little bodies in smaller spaces than in summer when more time is spent outdoors. Late fall also signals the start of influenza “flu” season, which depending on the year can wreak havoc across the country.

As you prepare for the next season, here are a few steps to decrease illnesses in your household and what to do if it happens to you.

1. Re-stock common household medications. Over-the-counter medications such as fever reducers (acetaminophen and ibuprofen) and antihistamines (diphenhydramine) expire, just as prescription medications do. Take some time to do an inventory of all the medications you have in your home. Discard expired medications, reorder prescriptions that are nearly empty, and repurchase staple medications such as those for fever and pain so they are accessible when you need them. Place them in key, childproof locations. Consider buying doubles or triples as needed for school, babysitters and grandparent homes.

2. Review the dosages of all medications you have on hand for your children. Consider an itemized list of each medication, each child and the correct dose. Keep the dosage list organized with each set of medications in the event that someone unfamiliar with the dose is tasked with giving the medication.

3. Restock your home, car, and frequently used bags (purses, diaper bags) with wipes and alcohol-free hand sanitizer. Use them frequently. Remember to wash little hands before immediately after school and always before eating. Hand washing is one of the biggest ways to decrease the transmission of infections at school and home.

4. Have a plan for unexpected sick days. Children get sick at the most inopportune time, so having a plan in place makes this just a tiny bit easier. Review your pediatrician’s office hours as well as where they want you to go if your child is sick after hours. Likewise, review your school or daycare’s sick policy. Understand that if your child is sent home for illness, they are likely not allowed back the following day.

5. Have your family vaccinated against the flu. We cannot do much about the common cold but we can immunize against the flu. Infants six months and older can be immunized. Children aged two and older can receive the nasal flu spray. Parents and caregivers need their shot, too!

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Board Certified Pediatrician

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she served as Chief Resident. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.


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