Simple Tips to Prepare Your Family for Cold & Flu Season

The winter season is also cold season (and flu season!). And, to quote a currently popular phrase: Winter is coming. (Unless you happen to live in one of those year round temperate climates. In which case, I’ll attempt not to envy you too much.)

That means the time to prepare for the inevitable sniffles, aches, and pains of cold season is now, not later.

simple tips cold and flu

Before Cold Season Starts is the Time to:

  • Sort through all your medicines (and first aid materials) on hand.
  • Discard (in the appropriate manner – you may need to research what the correct methods are in your area) anything that has expired or should have been used long ago (old prescriptions).
  • Make a list of anything your family relies on when sick.
  • Either do one big stock up at your store of choice, or begin to pick up one or two items as you go about your regular grocery shopping. There are usually coupons available in the fall & winter for medicines and first aid items.
  • Be sure you’re storing your meds in the proper place: away from hot, steamy temperatures (in other words, medicine shouldn’t be stored in a bathroom medicine cabinet), and away from little hands. We keep ours, organized by type, in our hall linen closet.
  • This is also a good time to make sure you have a basic First Aid Kit in each vehicle. (I also keep a miniature kit in whatever bag I’m carrying. You never know when someone will fall and scrape a knee.)

Cold Season Supplies I Keep on Hand in our “Medicine Chest” (actually, multiple boxes in our linen closet):

  • Adequate amounts of any prescription drugs any family members take. You don’t want to miss a dose because of a snow storm.
  • Acetaminophen – Adult, Children’s (chewable) & Infant (liquid)
  • Ibuprofen – Adult, Children’s, & Infant (our pediatrician recommends alternating doses of Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen, as long as there are no allergies or sensitivities to either)
  • Benadryl or other antihistamine – Adult & Children’s
  • Decongestant / Expectorant of choice – I usually choose something with Guaiphenesin as the active ingredient
  • Combination Cold/Sinus medicine – Adult
  • Combination Cold/Flu medicine – Adult, Children’s (but be careful with combination meds. It’s easy to mess up the doses.)
  • Vick’s Vapo-rub (or store brand) or homemade alternative (Garden Therapy has an one based on essential oils and Thank Your Body has one for kids but you can find others on Pinterest)
  • Saline for stuffy noses. If you have an infant don’t forget the special spray for them (it will have a smaller nozzle) and a nasal aspirator (bulb syringe).
  • Eye drops
  • Medicine of choice for upset tummies – Adult & Children’s
  • Tums or other antacid
  • Electrolyte solution or ingredients for homemade versions
  • Cough drops
  • Hot pack (purchased or homemade – a sock filled with rice will do) for aches and pains
  • Freezer pack (purchased or homemade). We have an Elmo version that’s fairly popular with the younger crowd. Of course, a bag of frozen peas will do in a pinch.
  • Humidifier or Vaporizer
  • Epsom Salts, baking soda, witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, aloe, non-colloidal oatmeal, or whatever your favorite home remedies are.
  • First aid items: bandages in various sizes, gauze, tweezers, thermometers (we keep one for babies and one for the older folks, both clearly labeled), antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone, other favorite anti-itch remedies

Here’s a peek at our medicine shelf in our hall linen closet: (Excuse the terrible quality picture: this is an interior hallway and the lighting is AWFUL.)

medicine shelf in closet
The wire shelf is stuff we need most often (vitamins, antacid, pain killers) and the stuff in the plastic box is our supply of cold & flu medicines.

I like to have canned soups, ginger ale, our favorite tea bags, and Jell-o on hand too. Homemade chicken noodle soup is better, of course, but when mom and dad are wiped out a can will do in a pinch. Upset stomachs are supposed to follow the “B.R.A.T.” diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), but we usually have those things on hand anyway. (I’m sure most parents of small children do!)

Just a quick FYI: doctors no longer recommend keeping Ipecac on hand so make sure you keep the Poison Control number handy, just in case.

With a little planning ahead, the usual winter colds, sniffles, and stomach upsets won’t have to be emergencies.

You can stay in your warm, cozy home and focus on getting better instead of drawing straws with your husband to see which of you is actually going to brave the ice and go buy a decongestant. (Not that I would know anything about that…)

Do you plan ahead for family sickness? What do you keep on hand? And how do you store your supplies?



cold season pin

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