The holidays can be a magical time of year for families – unless everyone’s passing around a cold or flu bug.

“There are a few simple things you can do to minimize the spread of illness during the winter,” said Craig Webb, MD, FAAP, pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente. Webb joined the Kaiser Permanente Parkside Medical offices, 215 S. Parkside Drive, in September.

First, get a flu shot. “I strongly encourage all parents and children down to 6 months of age to get immunized,” he said.

Second, pay attention to personal hygiene. “As we enter cold and flu season, the best thing you can do for yourself and others is wash your hands,” Dr. Webb said. “Teach your young children to cough and sneeze into their elbows, rather than hands. It’s also important to make sure children are appropriately dressed and prepared for whatever temperatures might occur that day.”

If your family does catch a cold, do what you can to stop it from spreading. “If you’re ill, stay home from school or work to keep others safe,” Dr. Webb said.

For most kids, a trip to the doctor’s office is not necessary, though it’s important to know the signs of a dangerous cold or flu. “Most children can receive home health care if they have a runny nose lasting less than 10 days or a cough that interferes a bit but doesn’t cause them to stop moving,” Dr. Webb said. “Fevers up to 103 degrees are OK, as long as the child is over 6 months in age.” Take your child to the pediatrician if his fever is 100.4 degrees or higher and he is under 3 months old or hits 101 degrees or higher at 3-6 months old. “If a child is having difficulty breathing, that something your pediatrician definitely needs to take a look at.”

Holiday safety doesn’t end with avoiding the flu. “As we head into the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we want to focus on safety in the house, especially in the kitchen,” Dr. Webb said. “It can be a dangerous place for children, especially the very small ones.” Dr. Webb recommended placing one adult in charge of keeping undistracted eyes on kids in the kitchen during holiday gatherings. “Most importantly, keep your knives and heavy items and dangerous utensils out of reach.”

Dr. Webb, a Colorado Springs native, was born on the Air Force Academy and recently returned to the city after retiring as a colonel from the U.S. Army. “The setting of Colorado Springs is fantastic for raising children,” Webb said. “We have 350 days of sunshine and a real emphasis on being outside and enjoying the mountains,” he said. “I also believe while we are a nice-sized city, we have a small-town feel, and that goes far when it comes to nourishing and mentoring our children as they grow.”

Dr. Webb joins Kaiser Permanente in the midst of its expansion across southern Colorado, including the Parkside Medical offices, which opened in January. “In this facility, you can see a doctor, visit the lab, go to the pharmacy; it’s great, especially from a pediatric standpoint. Mom doesn’t have to run all over town, saving families time and money,” he said.

A large portion of Dr. Webb’s patients are under age 2 and visit him for routine checkups. He also sees older children and teenagers for annual school and sports physicals, which emphasize Kaiser’s focus on preventative medicine, exercise and nutrition, and works with children who have chronic diseases, from asthma to ADHD. “We’re well positioned to handle anything a child might be dealing with,” he said. “We also have great working relationships with a variety of pediatric specialists in both Colorado Springs and Denver for any special cases and needed referrals.”

To learn more about all that Kaiser Permanente has to offer, visit kp.org/thrive or call 1-800-488-3590.

Pikes Peak Newspapers, Editor

Hannah Blick has lived in the Pikes Peak region for six years. She studied journalism at Kansas State University and enjoys biking, skiing and hiking in the Rockies.

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