It doesn't take a germ warrior to keep a family well-protected from bug-borne illness. Just follow these seven basic, important steps:
1. Teach your children to wash their hands at these key times: after going to the bathroom, petting an animal, or playing outside, and before eating.
2. Do hand washing right: With soap and water, it takes 20 seconds of scrubbing to kill the germs that need to be killed.
3. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you for visits to playgrounds, mall food courts, and other places where there might not be a sink handy. Be sure to cover every part of the hand, including under the nails, if possible.
4. After preparing meat or poultry, wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water and spray counter tops with disinfectant. The bacteria commonly found on raw meats — including campylobacter, salmonella, and E. coli — are more dangerous than any other germs you're likely to have in the house.
5. Wash small cuts and scrapes with soap and water. Apply an antibacterial ointment, put on a bandage, and change the bandage every day until the wound heals.
6. Make sure your children are up to date on their vaccinations, and consider getting them a flu shot every year. A school-age child who's been vaccinated against the flu is less likely to bring home a bug that can infect the entire family.
7. If someone in your house is sick, take a moment to clean doorknobs, television remotes, toys, and other items your children touch throughout the day.