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7 items every family needs to fight cold and flu season, according to medical experts

Stock up for maximum protection. (Photo: Amazon)
Winter is respiratory-illness season. Stock up and protect yourself from the common cold...and some less common, more deadly afflictions. (Photo: Amazon)

We’re in the midst of a perfect storm. We have the typical cold and flu season, plus a surge in RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases and the ongoing threat of COVID-19. And with children being back in school there’s a greater chance that they could be exposed to any of these illnesses, says Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Luckily, there are things you can do to lower the risk of getting sick. “Many of the practices that are being used for the control of COVID-19 are also applicable to the prevention of seasonal respiratory viruses, such as RSV, endemic coronaviruses, rhinovirus and influenza,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.

It starts with getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu (the only two illnesses circulating that there are vaccines for). There is, of course, also the need for good hand hygiene. But it’s still possible for a member of your household to get sick anyway. So it’s always a good idea to stay stocked up on what you need to keep your house as clean as possible and keep tabs on your family’s health. That way, you’re doing everything you can at home to help keep illness at bay — now and in the coming months.

Here, according to health experts, are a few smart, affordable things to keep around your house as we contend with RSV, cold, flu and COVID-19 season.

3M

3M Filtering Barrier Face Covering

3M is a big name in high-quality face masks, and this option filters out up to 95% of airborne particles. It also has soft straps that go behind your ears and can comfortably be worn all day.
$15 at Amazon

“If one wears a mask, it decreases the transmission of COVID-19, RSV and influenza,” Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease expert in Southampton, New York, tells Yahoo Life, while Dr. Cutler reminds us that it’s a good idea to have masks handy in your home to protect other family members in the event that one of you gets sick.

Amazon

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

$23$55Save $32
A good thermometer is crucial to have at home, and Amazon's No. 1 bestseller is perfect for getting a quick body temperature. It will show in seconds on the easy-to-read, large LED digital display.
$23 at Amazon

“Monitoring and recording temperature progression using a working thermometer is important data to provide to healthcare professionals when needing to discuss the ongoing illness,” says Weatherhead.

This option uses three different sensors to deliver reliable results. Just hold it a few centimeters away from the forehead, push the button and get a quick reading. A nice bonus: It vibrates when it’s ready, instead of beeping, so you don’t have to worry about waking a happy slumberer.

Amazon

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Pack of 6

$20$21Save $1
You can get illnesses like the flu and RSV from touching infected surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Clorox wipes make it easy to clean surfaces, killing 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
$20 at Amazon

“Always keep cleaning products on hand in the home,” says Margaret Quinn, a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing. An obvious recommendation, perhaps, but so, so true.

Amazon

Zacurate Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

This pulse oximeter slides onto your fingertip and gives a reading in seconds (your blood oxygen saturation should be between 95 and 100%, according to the World Health Organization).
$11 at Amazon

“It’s important to note this up front: A pulse oximeter won’t diagnose COVID-19 or the flu, but it can indicate that someone doesn’t have enough oxygen in their blood,” Fernando says. And, if you don't have enough oxygen in your blood, you may need to seek care to get supplemental oxygen. Basically, keeping tabs on your blood oxygen levels is a good thing when you have a respiratory virus.

Amazon

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Soothing Gel, Pack of 6

$16$18Save $2
Purell hand sanitizer kills up to 99.99% of germs. This version is particularly nice, as it’s enriched with moisturizing aloe vera and leaves behind a refreshing scent. With this bundle, you’ll get six travel-sized bottles.
$16 at Amazon

"Hand sanitizer can help kill germs that can make you sick and is especially useful when soap and water aren't available," Fernando says.

Amazon

Seventh Generation Purely Clean Hand Wash Soap, Pack of 8

$30$31Save $2
Hand washing is an important tool in keeping you healthy this season. Stock up with this eight-pack from Seventh Generation. This naturally derived gel is triclosan-free and biodegradable.
$30 at Amazon

“Having extra hand soap is always important, as everyone should be washing their hands more frequently throughout the day,” Quinn says.

Amazon

Tylenol Extra Strength Rapid Release Gels, 100 Count

COVID-19, RSV and the flu can cause a fever and aches and pains, and experts say acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) can help. This bottle of 100 pills will keep you well stocked all season.
$11 at Amazon

Quinn says now is a good time to check the expiration date of the medications you have at home. “Acetaminophen — aka Tylenol — for adults and children is always good to have on hand,” she says. These rapid-release gels help deliver pain- and fever-fighting medication quickly.

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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.