The new school season has officially begun! The excitement of new teachers, new classes, and new school clothes fills the air, but unfortunately, so do the germs. With all this talk on the news lately about the EV-D68 enterovirus affecting children, I can’t help but think about what germs are lurking around school hallways, classrooms and cafeterias. As a nurse and a mother of three, I am hoping the only thing my children bring home from school this year is homework!
Teaching your children early on about germs and showing them ways to prevent them can go a long way in keeping them healthy. For example, hand washing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about forty million Americans get sick each year from bacteria that is transmitted by unwashed hands, and that one out of every three people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Most flu, viruses, and diarrhea can easily be prevented if people made a habit of washing their hands. It only takes about 15-17 seconds to scrub your hands with soap and water to stay healthy.
Teach your children to wash their hands with warm soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom and before eating. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good “back up” but soap and water are much better.
If possible, have your children to wipe their desks down at least once a week.
Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and avoid contact with people that are sick. According to the CDC, adults touch their faces about 12 times/hour. Two year old children touch their faces 80 times/hour, and children five years of age touch their faces 60 times/hour.
Stay home if you are feeling under the weather so you don’t infect others. Some signs to look for in children are fever, cough, sneezing, vomiting, runny nose, wheezing, glassy or red eyes. Get rest and drink plenty of fluids and see your doctor, especially if your child shows signs of wheezing.
It only takes about 2-4 hours for a virus to makes its way from a contaminated doorknob to 40% of a tabletops objects. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like countertops, toys, doorknobs, light switches, computer keyboards and TV remotes. Hydrogen peroxide in proper formulation and dilution is a powerful sanitizer and disinfectant. Vinegar is also an effective disinfectant. Three germ killing essential oils to add to your homemade cleaners are tea tree, thyme, and citric acid essential oils.
Use tissues once and throw them away. Try not to reuse tissues later on by folding them up and keeping them in your pocket.
Avoid shaking hands kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with those who are sick.
Sneeze and cough into your elbow and not into your hands.
Teaching your children ways to reduce germs at school and taking common sense steps to reduce the risk of infection at home will help you and your family get through this new school season healthy!