GERMS-Infographic!---SEP-2013As children and adults head back into fall school and work schedules, keeping a healthy home and family can become more challenging.

According to the U.S. department of Labor’s Bureau and Statistics, the two primary reasons for work absences are a worker’s own illness or that of a family member.

According to a study by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, one-third of parents of young children surveyed are also concerned about losing jobs or losing pay to take off work to care for their sick children.

Here are some tips to help you combat back to school germs and the seasonal illnesses that come with them:

Prepare lunch on disinfected surfaces

Cracks and crevices in your cutting board or even your counter can harbor more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Use separate cutting boards for different foods and disinfect them regularly.

Avoid multi–tasking while cooking

Doing the laundry while getting the kids lunches ready can transfer dirt (and worse) from your clothes into the lunchbox if hand washing between tasks is overlooked.

Clean backpacks and lunchboxes

Clean out backpacks regularly and wash them at least once a week. Thoroughly clean the inside and outside of lunchboxes daily before putting away or repacking. Pack lunches and snacks in sealed containers instead of loose in backpacks.

Boycott germs

Provide your child with a reusable water bottle to take to school and some sanitary wipes to wipe the lunch tray, lunch table, or other surfaces. According to a study of germs in schools, water fountains and plastic cafeteria trays are germ hot spots.

Don’t Share

School is one of the worst places to share food, drinks, ear buds, or sports equipment. In the classroom, there may be books and other items that they will have to share, but remind them to wash their hands after such activities.

Hang up backpacks, purses, and jackets in the restroom

Avoid setting down any personal items on bathroom floors. This is a good rule for anyone of any age.

Wash your hands

All ages. All places. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, particularly before eating anything. Don’t forget to wash good between fingers and around fingernails.

Philip Tierno, PhD, author of The Secret Life of Germs, says that in one study of middle and high school students, only about half washed their hands after using the bathroom and only 33 percent of the girls and 8 percent of the boys used soap. He also cites other studies that show that “people who wash hands seven times a day have about 40 percent fewer colds than the average person.”

To see the full-sized infographic above, click here.

What are your thoughts about germs in schools? Share your ideas and germ-free recipes with us!