Cold and Flu Season is Here, Make prevention part of your daily routine

On average, a child younger than five years old will have eight colds a year. It’s a simple fact of life in Quebec that in fall and winter we spend more time indoors, are in close proximity to others and are therefore more likely to catch a cold or flu and pass it on to others. “Cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to eight hours and can be contracted if a child touches his nose, his mouth or his eyes after touching a contaminated surface,” says Dr. Caroline Quach of the Infectious Disease department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

But there are simple solutions to protect against and reduce the risk of infection:
  • Cover your mouth or nose with the inside of your arm or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash hands frequently.

Respiratory viruses can be transmitted directly when a person coughs or sneezes; the droplets can be suspended in air and end up on someone else. “We teach children to cover their mouth or nose with the inside of their sleeve near their elbow,” says Dr. Quach. “There’s less risk of this area coming in contact with someone else and infecting them.”

Dr. Quach strongly recommends, above all, washing hands frequently throughout the day. And it’s equally important to get children to develop this habit too, particularly after going to the washroom, before and after meals, and after coughing or sneezing. You should wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds and scrub every part of the hand. Antiseptic gels can be used when you don’t have soap and water but it’s not recommended to use an alcohol-based formula on children.