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It’s been a while since my last letter, I hope everyone survived the sub-zero temperatures and the “polar vortex.” I am a strong believer in planning ahead and using foresight to prevent problems before they occur. A little preparation goes a long way in making everyday life easier. The news channels had alerted us to the impending sub-zero temperatures long before they actually arrived, so the day before the extreme cold reached us, I did a little pre-planning and researched how to be prepared for sub-zero temperatures. I made sure my car was in tip-top shape by filling up the window washer fluid, making sure my gas tank was ¾ tank full, and ensuring my tires were at the proper PSI to accommodate the falling temperatures. As president of my condo association I sent out an email asking the other residents to drip their kitchen faucets to prevent pipes from freezing and asked that they immediately alert me to any problems. Finally, I had to protect my puppies! My Texas-born dogs have NEVER seen temperatures this cold so I went out and bought them little socks to protect their paws while walking in the frozen snow. You can see from the photo that Tyson was not used to having socks on his feet!

Because of the little bit of effort I put into prevention, I thankfully incurred zero disasters during the freeze! So…how we can we apply this same principle to our health and our children’s health? Below I’ve listed some basic principles that can help prevent illness this winter:

  1. Practice good hand washing techniques frequently throughout the day, this is particularly important during cold and flu season (between October and April). Hands should be washed for 20 seconds using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. More information on hand washing can be found at:
  2. Keep family members up to date on recommended immunizations (especially the flu vaccine) to keep our immune system as “ready” as possible to fight off foreign invaders.
  3. Teach children early and young to cover their coughs and sneezes.
  4. Adults and children should stay home from work, school, or any social functions if there is a fever over 100.4. I realize it can be difficult to miss a day of school or work, but it is not worth infecting those around us.
  5. Avoid contact with people who are sick. This can be difficult when a sibling is ill, but reminding sick siblings not to share their food or drinks with healthy siblings, and to wash hands frequently is beneficial.

Illnesses are all around us, and although we cannot always prevent these problems from occurring, we can do our part in preventing the spread of germs to friends and family members.

Stay healthy,

Karen Gentile, CPNP