Get a Flu Be Gone Box Ready BEFORE the Flu Catches You!

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image by lorenkerns
image by lorenkerns

Note: Recently, I received a letter from a company, asserting their trademark on the phrase Flu Be Gone, which was registered long after this blog post was first published in 2013. To be clear, my use of the phrase “flu be gone”, is simply an editorial description with no commercial use. I am not associated with the company or any of their products. 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this year’s flu completely blindsided me. I read the headlines declaring a near-epidemic in some parts of the country but noted that my state, Arizona, hadn’t been hit particularly hard. So when my son had a short bout with what I thought was a 24 hour stomach bug, I wasn’t worried.

Three days later, he was nearly catatonic with a fever and a deep, racking cough. My brain hadn’t been thinking “flu”, so my husband and I were running to the store for ginger ale, extra Kleenex, and a new thermometer.

In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have been so complacent. Although we rarely get sick, it would have been so simple to put together a Flu Be Gone Box, filled with items to help us get through the worst of any sickness. After all, if mom and dad were ever sidelined by an illness, my kids are too young to drive to the store!

My goal is to keep everything in one place, so we aren’t running around trying to locate a stray thermometer or the jar of honey that’s somewhere in the pantry. I also want the kids to know where this box is located and what each item is for.

Here’s what I’ve placed in our box so we’ll be ready next time around.

  1. Large, unopened box of tissues.
  2. Small bottle each of NyQuil and DayQuil. Your choices may be different.
  3. Small bottle of crystallized ginger for homemade ginger tea. You can also put a couple of crystals inside your cheek and allow to slowly dissolve. Crystallized ginger doesn’t have as strong a bite as fresh.
  4. Unopened bottle of ginger ale for nausea.
  5. A small, unopened jar of honey for coughs. (Not for use with babies, though.)
  6. Unopened bottle of hand sanitizer
  7. Thermometer
  8. Peppermint and/or eucalyptus essential oils for use in a humidifier.
  9. Small bottle of ibuprofen.
  10. Anti-diarrheal medicine — Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a recommended brand.
  11. Emesis/vomit bags — Better to use than a bowl or toilet to prevent splashing. Ugh.
  12. A few pairs of disposable gloves
  13. 4 face masks to keep contagion to the minimum when tending to the sick person
  14. My favorite essential oil diffuser and a few oils that are beneficial, such as eucalyptus, Raven (a Young Living blend), frankincense, and lavender (for a good night’s sleep). I even have a diffuser for my car and just LOVE it!

I thought of adding a box of saltines, but these go horrifically bad after a couple of months due to the small amount of oil in the crackers. A sealed box of pilot bread would stay fresh, though.

A simple DIY rehydration concoction you can easily mix up in your own kitchen is another good addition. A few months ago I assembled forty of these packets and have tucked them into my pantry, vehicle emergency kit, and have even put a few in the glove compartment of my husband’s truck.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 t. salt

That’s it.  Some people add a bit of Kool-Aid to provide flavor, but it isn’t necessary. When this sugar/salt combo is mixed with a liter of clean water, you have an effective rehydration fluid that will go a long way toward helping someone recover from a bout with the stomach flu.

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29 thoughts on “Get a Flu Be Gone Box Ready BEFORE the Flu Catches You!”

  1. I suggest some type of entertainment for little ones for when Mom is sick. DVDs with movies they rarely see or have never seen, quick snacks, books, a coloring book and new crayons, a dollar store doll and clothes. Add them to the sick bag so Mom has some easy go to entertainment when she’s feeling horrible.

  2. A few cans of chicken soup.Yes, homemade is better, but if you are the one who is sick, canned is better than nothing. I also like to have vitamin c lozenges to suck on for a sore throat.

  3. Elderberry extract, there’s syrup too. Scientific evidence that it boosts the immune system and can cut the effect of the flu by 50%. Also, while I refuse to get the flu shot due to all the additions of dangerous junk, i.e. mercury and other bad crap, someone mentioned that getting the pneumonia shot would offset the serious side effects of the flu?

    1. That is gross on too many levels. I dont want my puke saved for posterity. Better to use a bucket to store all the items. Then it can be dumped out and ready for use.

  4. Oooooh! And don’t forget your elderberry syrup! You can get it at the store under the name Sambucol, or you can make it yourself. It’s one of the main things my family takes during the winter months to decrease the likelihood of getting sick. But, it’s also fabulous in cutting down the amount of time someone is sick with a virus by inhibiting the virus’ ability to replicate!

    Winter Elderberry Syrup for immune support:
    – 3 cups fresh elderberries, or 1 cup dried berries
    – 3 cups filtered water
    – 1 1/2 cups honey
    – 1 ounce fresh ginger root, grated
    – Juice of 1 lime
    – 1 ounce echinacea tincture (95% alcohol) optional

    1. Combine berries, ginger and water in stainless steel or glass pot. Heat on medium until simmering.
    2. Continue to gently simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until reduced in volume by half.
    3. Remove from heat. Strain well through cheesecloth, squeezing the juice from the berries. Allow
    decoction to cool slightly.
    4. Measure liquid and combine with equal parts honey.
    5. Add all the lime juice .
    6. When cooled completely, add echinacea tincture.
    7. Pour into glass jar, label with date, and store in the refrigerator for up to a year.
    Take between one teaspoon and one tablespoon twice daily during the cold and flu season. For children ages 2-5, use half the adult dose. Dose for ages 6-12 is one teaspoon twice daily. Nursing mothers can take one tablespoon 5 minutes before nursing to pass the benefits along to the baby.
    (Increase the dosage to 1 tsp every waking hour if you have flu symptoms.)

    1. Thanks for this! We planted Elderberries last year for this very purpose–heard it was used in South America to combat epidemic flu outbreaks. Do you use local honey? Any benefits to that over sotre-bought?

  5. A pneumonia shot protects against a few kinds of BACTERIAL pneumonia, which can be a complication of the flu. However, what public health officials and doctors worry about when they contemplate an influenza epidemic is VIRAL pneumonia, which is very difficult to treat. Some people are helped if they get drugs like Tamiflu within the first 48 hours of having symptoms–most folks, though, don’t go to the doctor that quickly, and there isn’t a huge supply of Tamiflu either. So from a public health standpoint the most effective thing is to vaccinate as many people against influenza as possible, and hopefully prevent an epidemic.

    If you are allergic to eggs or object to the ingredients of the flu shot, keep an eye out next year. I hear they are finally getting tired of the old method of making the shots where they use eggs, and are coming out with a new version. I don’t know enough about it to know if it will be any safer/better, but it’s something to look into.

  6. VERY important re: Ginger Ale – Make sure it INCLUDES GINGER. I have two 2 liter bottles in the basement that are just flavored that way, so no tummy benefits. We also have two cases of cans that do have ginger, in case of sickness.

    Lipton Cup a Soup is also important for me – I start being able to eat that before I can manage regular chicken noodle soup when I’m sick. A personal favorite dessert is almond jello, which you can buy canned at an Asian grocery store. (The cans do say almond jelly, with a Y instead of an O, but it’s jello.)

    There are disposable thermometers, too.

  7. Toss in a box of Celestial Seasonings’ Tummy Mint Tea. If you can’t find it, combine chamomile and peppermint teas to get the same effect. I add raw honey and lemon juice. I also have crystallized lemon on hand in case fresh lemons are hard to come by.

    I have a box of Ginger Bread Tea from Celestial Seasonings in my stash that is mostly ginger. You can also pick up ginger tea at your local health food store.

  8. I would add a small trashcan lined with bags for throwing used tissues or if barfing (easier than trying to get a bag open in time especially for the little ones). And also bendy straws.

  9. I would leave out anything with sugar, and nothing weakens an already weak immune system more than sugar! Herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint, ginger), plain coconut water or Smart Water for rehydration. I would add some vitamin D3 drops. They are tasteless and can easily be added to a drink or food, and very good for warding off the flu for the healthy members of the family, and healing the sick members:

  10. If you’re worried about the “extras” in the flu shot, those are just in the multi-dose bottles as preservatives. If you can get the single dose, they’re supposed to be free of all the preservatives.

  11. I keep a little stash of immune boosters in the cabinet for when someone feels like they are getting sick.

    Elderberry syrup. I have used honey, but i am going to try a batch made with food grade glycerin because i think it is more economical here in CA.

    Astragalus is a root and you can get it in capsule form. Very good immune properties and i have read that there is some evidence of it being a good cancer preventative. Search it and check it out.

    My son recently had the stomach bug. Myself and my older son were the only two around him the night he got sick. It was too late for him, the poor kid, but the older one and i took some charcoal capsules and drank some fresh ginger tea. I got out the Lysol and the PineSol and went on a disinfecting craze, and no one else in our house of seven got sick. Everyone we new had it.

    Of course, there is good ole vitamin C

    Super Tonic. It sounds crazy, but we use this every time we are aware of being exposed to winter virus’ I will give the ingredients, but there is a book called Be Your Own Doctor by Rachel Weaver. Every mom should have it, especially if you want to save the doctor and hospital for an absolute last resort.

    Here it is.

    Blend a handful of:
    Cayenne pepper (ground if you can’t find whole peppers, but obviously, not a handful 😉

    Cover with raw apple cider vinegar – like Bragg’s
    Pour into glass jar
    Sit covered in a dark place for 2-3 weeks
    Shake daily
    strain through cheese cloth

    1Tb a day or 1 Tb per hour if you are sick

    Options: water down, add honey, combine with other foods. I have a friend who uses it for salad dressing.

    My family is rarely sick, and when we do get sick, we usually shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.

    Check out for lots of articles, videos, etc… on staying healthy

  12. Zinc lozenges (cherry flavored) purchased at a health food store, these are chewable. I used these when I worked as yard duty at a grade school. The kids loved to share their illness with the staff, so these were a item that I kept with me all during the school year. The Lysol wipes that come in the round container were kept in the car, even to this day. I use them to clean the carts when shopping, and I clean my hands with the extra wipes after I put the cart away. It has cut down on the exposure to myself and my husband.

  13. Activated Charcoal is useful for diarrhea. It’s not generally recommended for children under 3. You should have this on hand already if you have children, since it is often recommended by poison control for certain cases of meds overdoses. Read more at:,+Activated

    Oil of Oregano can be helpful for respiratory bugs or earaches. Some people swear by this, others don’t. Another tool in the arsenal.

    Ginger, honey, lemon….these are all useful things. Eucalyptus for steaming yourself for respiratory issues.

    From when my son had a severe bout of rotavirus years ago…..the key for dehydrated littles is to give them a little bit of fluid fairly frequently, like every 10-15 minutes or so. Don’t give them much at once; it will all come back at you. But if you give them a teaspoon or two at a time (even via syringe if you have to), it will likely stay down better. You can also have them just hold it in their mouths/cheeks/under the tongue because some will be absorbed that way, even if the stomach stuff doesn’t stay down.

  14. This isn’t something to put in the box; it is more of a prepping skills for the kids. Teach your kids how to use the can opener and how to make basic heat and eat foods ( soups, chef boyadee, etc.). This is important if you are out of commission by illness. Let’s face it – the most likely scenario is one child brings home the flu and spreads it to the rest of the family. Meaning, one child will be getting well just as mom succumbs to the flu. Have the kids being independent enough to make simple meals for themselves and others is important.

    My 11 yo ( then 10 yo) son fed the rest of us for a day and half because mom, dad and little brother were too I’ll from the bug he brought home.

  15. Lip balm and some water bottles that can be tossed when done so no one is handling germ infested glasses. We are lucky to have two bathrooms – one becomes the flu bathroom and everybody else gets their own hand towel and uses the other bathroom. That way if someone does succumb to the flu, everyone else has not been using the same hand towel. Encourage the kids to do seprerate things just in case. And crank up the dishwasher to the sani temperature setting because you don’t know who will be next!

  16. I am so happy I set up a sick room this year. It is a separate sleeping area with its own bath that can be closed off from the rest of the family. There is a little TV with video game in it. I put paper hand towels in the bathroom as well as lysol, Purell, Clorox wipes, extra TP and extra plastic grocery bags to empty trash everyday.
    Bedside table has cough drops, extra batteries for the remote, loads of tissues, baby wipes, a cell phone charger and a fancy little bell.
    The bureau has 4 drawers. Top has meds, second has food and beverage, third has extra tissues, Lysol etc, fourth has extra linens.
    Med drawer:
    Adult and child Tylenol and Motrin
    Vicks vapor rub
    Multi symptom cold/flu med

    Ginger ale
    Hard candies
    Boxes of jello
    Canned chicken soup
    Cup a soup
    Few bottles of water
    Herbal tea bag variety

    Also in the room are a puke bucket, humidifier, electric blanket and over the bed tray. I also strongly recommend using disposable silverware and paper plates.
    I have an under the bed box for more serious health issues…bed pan, plastic sheets, zippered plastic doorway for isolation, plastic gloves and N-100 respirator masks.

    Most everything I need to care for a sick family member (or myself) is in one location.

  17. Oscillococcinum by Boiron

    is a homeopathic medicine sold everywhere from CVS, Walgreens to your local grocery store and of course Amazon. It is the BEST at reducing the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms!!!

    Son #1 came down with the flu in December. It hit him so fast that he was in bed within 8 hours of the first symptom and he stayed there for 3 days. Mom was not paying attention and did not catch it soon enough. Son #2 started with the same symptoms and I gave him Oscillococcinum within 3 hours of his first symptoms and he was not nearly as sick nor bed ridden like his brother.

    I always have some on hand and Mom will be more aware next time :O

  18. I make a wintertime tea of mullein leaf, rose hip, licorice root and hot pepper flakes. The mullein and licorice strengthen the lungs. The rose hips are high in vitamin C, and the hot pepper cuts phlegm. the proportion is about two parts rose hips to one part by weight each of mullein and licorice with a few hot pepper seeds per cup. It will look like mostly mullein since that is really light.

  19. I do have an extensive 3 drawer cart as a medicine cabinet!
    First and foremost before cold & flu season begins we double our vitamin C and D intake in addition to a good multi vitamin and the kids and i all have a cup of tea with extra honey every night. I started that year and so far we have only had 1 sickness that my hubs who works on the road brought home! Compared to 4 kids tag teaming the Dr and ER from October to March I’ll will accept 1 case of bronchitis!

    In the past however I learned to be prepared in advance for sicknesses hence the super med cabinet.
    I have a bottle of Tylenol and Advil for each child, and a big bottle of each for hubs and I.
    Day quil gel caps for me, mucinex D and NyQuil for hubs (I can’t take anything remotely resembling a sedative unless I want to zone out for 16 hours or so).
    Robitussin for the kids. I’ve tried every cough syrup on the market and despite the expense this still does the best for cough control when all else has failed my asthmatic kids.
    Extra inhalers and albuterol for the nebulizer. (These are a prescription)
    2 ear thermometers and spare batteries for them, 4 regular thermometers with spare batteries too.
    1rectal thermometer & covers. My kids are too old now but when they were babies the dr office wouldn’t accept a temp that wasn’t rectal.
    Pepto, tums, Imodium, benedryl, and a sinus meds for both adults and kids if possible.
    Ricola cough drops several bags and different flavored. Ayr nasal inhaler (just a plastic tube you put in your nostril and breathe in the eucalyptus) saline nasal drops for babies, Vicks (rub on bottoms of feet and put warm socks on it works!
    The ingredients and instructions for a mustard plaster plus thick peices of sweat pant material to make them. You can look these up online but be very careful they will burn your skin in applied directly to it it left on to long even in the material. They helped me get over pneumonia as a child and have kept my kids from getting it to start with. Find good directions full of lots of warnings and follow them!
    On top of my med cart ( I keep it in a locked closet) I have a bin with Lysol wipes, spray (the old fashions one in an aerosol can) 2 bottles of Lysol concentrated multi purpose cleaner, cleaning gloves and a scrub brush. We don’t use tissues, cheap toilet paper is more cost effective and each sick person has their own (regular sized) roll in a ziploc with their name on it. I also have cheap dollar store bathroom trash cans (black plastic) and a bunch of plastic grocery bags for vomit.
    When someone is ill and noone else it they get grounded to the love seat and are only allowed to use the one bathroom. Noone but me goes near the sick person and only the sick person uses that bathroom. This keeps down the spread of germs and the way out home is set up the loves eat is about 5ft from my bedroom door. Also it helps keep them propped up for sleeping so the cough less. I put a big old blanket over the entire couch and ten fresh sheets, they get their normal blankets and pillows at night and a throw blanket during the day as I change and wash the sheets and night bedding everyday for that person so that they are laying in a pool of their own mutating germs.
    I lay a washable bed pad (think nursing home or puppy pee pads only washable) on the floor near them with their trash can and a tray they can use to set things on, eat on or draw on top of. If there is a spill or they miss the trash can that pad saves my carpet.
    I use the Lysol constantly to rescue the spread of germs but I only use te aerosol spray to disinfect my couch and surrounding floor once they are no longer contagious.
    I try not to give my kids soda I possible so I don’t keep any here. I do have several boxes of pedialyte ice pops (unfrozen) I store. Each pop is I think 2 (maybe 4) ounces of pedialyte. I can freeze them if needed but for drinking it this keeps me from wasting an entire expensive bottle or buying tons of the outrageously priced powder packets.

  20. Sorry for all the typos above I am doing this on my phone and auto correct hates me.
    I will say that unless I know its asthmatic and they need their prescriptions I tend to try to keep them comfortable and treat symptoms naturally before resorting to OTC meds. I don’t do anything about fevers until they hit 102 this is my personal preference and not medical advice in any way! Fevers are an immune response the body’s way of making itself less inhabitable for viruses and bad bacteria by keeping it down constantly it takes my kids longer to kick it and they tend to get much worse faster. This is something I have personally discussed with our pediatrician. I don’t let it get out of control and I closely monitor fevers and always have ways to reduce them on hand. Virus have to run their course and bacteria needs to be fought off. Both though can mutate within each person meaning that its possible by the time it runs through the family the first victim will get sick again because now its a new strain and they don’t have the antibodies for it.
    This is also why I do NOT get myself or anyone in my family a flu shot. We did once and spent 6 months so sick there wasn’t more than 36 hours between dr and ER visits all around. Imagine my upset when they have my baby a live rotovirus vaccine without telling me what it was and low and behold we all got it within a few days!!! We changed drs after that.
    Simple hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze and not touching the sick person (think kids dig pilling each other) is the best defense. That and good hygiene in general.

  21. I also quarantine the house when anyone is sick and don’t allow people who are sick or have sick kids to visit. May seem mean but that’s how the crap spreads! I have a dishwasher and I use it to sanitize all plastic toys like Barbies, blocks, cars, non battery operated action figures and play sets. Anything that it won’t ruin that will fit in there and I use bleach instead if detergent. I then run it through another cycle with just the water. I do this every couple months anyhow but I do it with any toys used by the sick person ASAP so there is no chance of the germs getting mixed in with everything else. I use alcohol to wipe down things like remotes and DS game systems and I double wash stuffed animals in hot water.
    I spring clean 3x a year, right before it gets cold and the house will be closed up, right after the holidays when the constant traffic of company is over and at spring before we open the house back up again.
    I change furnace filters often and vacuum out the heating vents in the floors every time I vacuum the room.
    I realize this sounds OCD and slightly crazy but I do all this to keep my family healthy and keeps sickness at bay as much as possible.
    Did you know 40-60% of the toxins and germs brought into your home is from shoes? Take them off at the door!!! Clean this area more often then you normally would. I also wash backpacks and coats every weekend to keep down the germs brought home from school.
    One more thing for those who do not know lice is not a dirty thing to get, it prefers clean hair!!! So if you hear of it going around (they no longer do routine checks or notify parents of lice) use product in your kids hair even if its just too much detangler spray or hairspray it. Keep long hair pulled back low and braided so there is less chance your child will get it. There have been more than I care to recall lice outbreaks in my kids schools (they’ve had a few due to moves) and we have never gotten it.
    I hope this helps someone out there!

  22. A bottle of Chloraseptic Throat Spray. I use CVS brand and it stops the coughing almost instantly. For years, I used to get bronchial infections once or twice a year and have such coughing jags, I thought my gut would bust. It numbs the back of the throat and the cough is gone. A lifesaver!!

  23. A lot of good stuff on your list 🙂
    My “flu be gone”box is a jumble of different things that I have found to be pretty effective 🙂

    *Sambucol (elderberry extract)
    Apple Cider Vinegar
    1or 2 boxes Traditional Medicines (Seasonal Sampler Pack) Tea
    1big box Peppermint Tea
    Vicks (for bottom of feet chest &nose)
    Purification (young living oil -mix with Vicks on bottom of feet)
    Carmex – lips and chafed nose
    J.R Watkins -Menthol Camphor Relief Mist (spritz in steamy shower = heavenly 🙂
    J.R Watkins warming balm (if my back starts acting up) –I get J.R [email protected] Cracker Barrel
    2 containers-Chicken Boullion Cubes
    TP/box tissues
    Riccola or Halls Cough drops
    Coconut Oil

    When something is coming I make my
    “SeriousBusiness Concoction” 😛
    *First take Sambucol dose
    Brew about 6 or 7 Medicine Teabags
    3/4packs EmergenC
    Fresh Ginger
    AppleCider Vinegar
    Spoon of Coconut Oil
    *despite the way it sounds it actually doesn’t taste really bad and will be fizzing as you drink it! 🙂 I usually take before before bed and wake up feeling much better!
    *My daughter also gets the same “Medicine Tea” though a less potent brew- and we use the Nosefrieda with a bit of saline/thieves (young living).

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