New research from Kleenex® Anti-Viral shows they may be unaware that their car can be a prime breeding ground for spreading and catching germs: only 1% of parents think their kids are susceptible to catching a cold in the car compared to 84% in school classrooms and 13% in the playground.
The car is potentially a cold and flu trap due to limited air circulation, passengers contained in close confinement and used tissues.
Over 50% of parents questioned admitted to leaving their used tissues in the car for longer than a day and only 30% clean them out once a month, leading to a build up of used tissues in car doors and footwells.
This combined with 94% of school runs clocking in at up to 30 minutes each way, means there is a greater chance for germs to circulate and a longer time for your family to be exposed to them.
Famous family doctor and mother of three, Dr Dawn Harper identifies cars as a high risk factor in the cold cycle and shares her top tips on how families can prepare themselves against colds and flu this winter.
She explains: "Parents are protective over their child's health and try to maintain high levels of hygiene within the home. We are forgetting to take preventative measures when ferrying our kids around in the car – it takes just one sneeze in a car environment to release millions of air borne germs."
"It is vital to contain these germs and the easiest way to do this is to instil hygienic tissue usage and disposal, especially as Kleenex's research shows 55% of children using their sleeve or hand to wipe their nose if a tissue isn't readily available!"
With a third of parents (33%) offering lifts to neighbours and friends' children, instances of colds are not just confined within the family either. And with more than 30% not buying tissues to keep in the car, it means your own children are more likely to come down with a cold or the flu this winter.
Dr Harper continues: "Germs can remain virulent for up to 24 hours, even in a used tissue, but it is not always easy or practical to throw away a tissue immediately when you are driving. An easy way to protect you kids against cold and flu germs in the car therefore is to use an anti-viral tissue that kills 99.9 percent of major cold and flu viruses in a tissue."
Here are her top tips for families for the winter:
- Practice coughing etiquette – use a disposable tissue (preferably an anti-viral one) and remember to dispose of it as soon as you can
- Open windows to increase ventilation and reduce humidity (this will reduce the risk of airborne viruses)
- If you have a virus, avoid travelling
- Wash your hands when you get out and don't touch your mouth before doing so
- In addition to avoiding germs and washing your hands, your family can stay healthier during cold season by getting sufficient sleep and exercise, drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious diet