HealthyChildren.org is sending a few tips to parents and caregivers to help prevent sickness.
One of the most common illnesses this time of year is influenza, a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu infections are highly contagious and spread easily when children are in a group with other children such as child care centers.
Officials note the flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children and can lead to serious health conditions like pneumonia or bacterial infections.
While many experts urge the flu vaccination as a preventative measure, there are also additional ways to prevent the spread of germs and keep kids healthy.
HealthyKids.org reports that its important kids know the importance of washing hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or wiping noses. Children should be encouraged to cough into their sleeves or arm or into a tissue.
Hand Washing Tips:
- Washing before eating (including snacks)
- Washing after every trip to the bathroom
- Washing whenever they come in from playing outdoors
- Washing after touching an animal, including the family pet
- Washing after sneezing or coughing
- Washing frequently when someone in the household is ill
- Wet your child’s hands, apply clean bar of soap or liquid soap to hands, rub hands vigorously together for 10-15 seconds, rinse and dry.
Germ Prevention Strategies:
- Sneeze and cough into a tissue or into their sleeves
- Throw away tissues immediately after each use
- Teach children to blow their nose into a tissue
- Avoid sharing pacifiers, drinking cups, eating utensils, towels or toothbrushes
- Wash the kitchen counters with hot, soapy water and disinfect them after preparing a meal
- Practice safe food handling practices
There’s also no denying that child care facilities are breeding grounds for germs. There are also a few steps that caregivers and teachers can take to prevent the spread of infection.
- Are there sinks in every room, and are there separate sinks for preparing food and washing hands? Is food handled in areas separate from the toilets and diaper-changing tables?
- Are the toilets and sinks clean and readily available for the children and staff? Are disposable paper towels used so each child will use only his own towel and not share with others?
- Are toys that infants and toddlers put in their mouths sanitized before others can play with them?
- Are all doors and cabinet handles, drinking fountains, all surfaces in the toileting and diapering areas cleaned and disinfected at the end of every day?
- Are all changing tables and any potty chairs cleaned and disinfected after each use?
- Are staff and other children fully immunized, especially against the flu?
- Is food brought in from home properly stored? Is food prepared on site properly handled?
- Is breast milk labeled and stored correctly?
- Are children and their caregivers or teachers instructed to wash their hands throughout the day, including:
o When they arrive at the facility
o Before and after handling food, feeding a child, or eating
o After using the toilet, changing a diaper, or helping a child use the bathroom (Following a diaper change, the caregiver’s and child’s hands should be washed and the diaper-changing surfaces should be disinfected.)
o After helping a child wipe his nose or mouth or tending to a cut or sore
o After playing in sandboxes
o Before and after playing in water that is used by other children
o Before and after staff members give medicine to a child
o After handling wastebaskets or garbage
o After handling a pet or other animal
- Make sure your own child understands good hygiene and the importance of hand washing after using the toilet and before and after eating.
- Is health consultation available to deal with outbreaks or to review policies?
Additional information can be found at HealthyChildren.org
Michaela Madison Reporting