Sick Season Strategy

by Elizabeth Blair

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It's almost that time of year, cold and flu season. Did you know American's suffer over a billion colds in the U.S. every year? School aged children average six to ten colds a year and as many as twelve, while adults average two to four colds a year. If you are a parent, your chances are increased. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that 35 to 50 million Americans get hit with the flu each year.

There are great tips out there on how to prevent the spread of colds and the flu: washing your hands frequently, take your vitamins, carrying your own pen, using a stroller instead of shopping carts, use shopping cart covers, avoid using cash, carrying tissue to open doors, apply hand sanitizer regularly, plus the variety of cold prevention formulas offered today that you can take at the first sign of a cold.

While we try to prevent the spread of germs, the inevitable often still occurs, and when it does, it's nice to be prepared for financial reasons as well as convenience. Sure, the 24-hour drug stores can feel like a lifesaver at 2am, but your wallet will be feeling the pinch, and who wants to go out in the wee, cold hours anyway? That makes now the time to watch for your favorite brands to go on sale, plus the cold and flu medicine coupons will be coming out any day. Don't forget to compare the active ingredients of the name brands to the store brands. Often there is little or no difference between the two other than price and fancy packaging.

Most agree nothing tastes quite like a nice bowl of hot chicken soup when you are sick. Canned chicken soup is fine and some of it is quite tasty these days, but it can also be loaded with sodium and preservatives. So rather than purchasing canned soup, make a big batch of fresh chicken soup and put it into freezable containers. You might enjoy making homemade soup for your sick family, but if you are the sick one in the family, cooking is the last thing you will feel like doing. By freezing the soup, you and the family can still get the benefit of homemade soup and the convenience of having it on hand. Don't forget to pick up a couple boxes of saltine crackers to keep in the pantry.

Did you know the common cold loves low humidity? If you haven't done so lately, check your humidifier's filter. You might want to consider purchasing a second or even a third humidifier for those times more than one person is ill or just to keep running during the arid months.

If your family is anything like my family, you go though dozens of tissue boxes over the winter months. Stock up early and check your supply often so you're not out when you need it most and forced to pay full price at the last minute.

The respiratory illnesses aren't the only sicknesses you can prepare for. When you are hit with a stomach bug, you probably won't be heading to the store so have a few bottles of clear liquids on hand like Gatorade or a lemon-lime soda. That's another reason to have some soup and crackers on hand.

For those families with children, place an easy access "sick bucket" in each child's room or closet. Most kids have a hard time making it to the bathroom in time when the stomach bug hits, especially at night. You might also want to keep a pack of baby wipes nearby as well as a towel. This is a good time of year to find sand buckets on clearance. Just look for one that's a decent size.

In the meantime, think positively. My mom always says, "Use mind over matter. If you convince yourself you won't get sick, you won't." Of course, my father always used the Boy Scout mantra of always being prepared. Me, well, I take after both of them, I prepare and hope for the best.

Take the Next Step: Unfortunately, we all get sick at some point. Are you prepared for the inevitable? If not, begin collecting some of these suggested items. Maybe there are a few things that you'd like to have handy that weren't listed here. (Personally, I'd like to keep a great novel to devour and maybe a warm, soft pair of socks to keep my feet toasty warm.) Whatever you decide to include, begin your collection today because cold and flu season is just around the corner.

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