Like troops going into battle, the kids at Little Explorers in-home daycare in Mandan, are in training for a season under attack.
"With kids, it's always kind of a germ season," said Sara Hertz, owner and daycare provider. "The most prominent time for germs is kind of October through April."
Sara knows from experience, as the weather gets colder and the children spend more time indoors, she is battling germs without trapping the kids in a bubble.
"You can't always prevent every little runny nose and cough you hear right now. It's kind of starting already," she laughs.
In a place where everything is shared, she is minimizing the spread of bacteria. Sara has a system to help her out, including color-coordinated cups for each child, keeping their bedding separated in their own bins and sanitizing changing tables, high chairs and toys.
Sara has even added some devices around the home to help. An air filtration system helps to keep fresh air coming in.
"It's actually an old wives tale to keep kids inside when it's cold. We want to make sure we get them outside for fresh air to kind of get the germs in and out," she said.
In the bathroom, automatic paper towel and soap dispensers help to ensure the germs hit the trash rather than linger on surfaces.
"Another good philosophy is just to make sure people aren't touching their faces. So many time, little kids get sick easily because they use their hands and touch their face frequently. That leads to more infection," said Dr. Christina Da Silva, a Sanford Health pediatrician. "So if you can promote education to your kids, it would be to not touch their face."
Pediatricians say hand sanitizers and good hand-washing techniques will be critical this cold and flu season. Sara teaches her kids to sing the ABC's while scrubbing with soap.
The experts agree your goal should not be to sterilize everything. The immunity our bodies build from the germs that slip through will help us.
"Viruses mutate. They change. That's why every year we get four to six viruses. That's very normal for children, and even adults," said Dr. DaSilva. "But, the hope is that your body responds to it better."
You can take some of these tactics home for more training, like practicing with the kids to cough and sneeze to the inside of their elbows. But, they say, your first line of defense should be living a healthy lifestyle.
"Some of the easiest ones are just making sure you're getting enough rest and proper nutrition. Make sure you're eating enough fruits and vegetables and drinking enough water and proper fluids. Obviously, getting eight to 10 hours of sleep, that helps your body fight off an infection."
It's also not too late to get your flu shot to protect yourself and your family this season.