HEALTH CENTER

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Keeping Germs to a Minimum at Home by D.M.

This is the time of year when young children come home from school with ailments such as fevers, runny noses, nausea, or upset stomach.  Older kids also may be out of school for several days fighting some kind of bug.

Having one sick child at home can be challenging.  What happens when it’s two or more? How do you keep germs from spreading? Here are some tips to consider:

Tip 1: Teach your children to wash their hands

Have them use soap and keep their hands under warm water for 20 seconds.  Perhaps you can have your children sing the Happy Birthday song twice through or the ABC’s so that their hands stay under water long enough.

More frequent hand washing by everyone in your home can help minimize exposure to the virus that is transmitted through tiny invisible droplets in the air we breathe or on things we touch.

What about those times when your children don’t have access to soap and water? It’s OK to use antibacterial hand sanitizer; just remember to have them rub their hands together vigorously until the gel evaporates.

Tip 2: Sneeze and cough into your sleeve, please

Teach your children to sneeze into their sleeve instead of their hands.

Remember, colds are most contagious during the first two to four days after the symptoms appear, and may be contagious for up to three weeks.

Tip 3: Say NO to sharing

Sharing utensils, cups, toothbrushes, washcloths, and towels can lead to spread of upper respiratory infections. Giving children their own plates and cups may mean more dishes to wash after mealtimes, but swapping cups, silverware and samples from someone else’s plate isn’t a good idea when a family member is under the weather.

Tip 4: Disinfect

Take precautions, but don’t go overboard. Here are some ways you can disinfect:

Stock the bathroom with disposable paper cups, tissues and disposable paper towels for hand drying. While germs don’t live on towels long, they can be around long enough to make healthy kids sick.

Disinfect surfaces in your home, but focus on things your child has touched including door handles, tables, chairs and banisters, light switches, etc…

Once the symptoms have subsided, remember to wash stuffed animals and toys, and replace toothbrushes.

Tip 5: Avoid face-to-face contact

Hold young sick children over your shoulder to avoid sudden coughing or sneezing in your face.

Put the sick child in a separate area away from the other household members.

Tip 6:  Clean and dispose     

Dispose of the sick child’s tissues in the trash.

Wash the sheets and towels of the sick child on a hot setting.  Don’t “hug” the laundry as you carry it to the washing machine because you’ll contaminate yourself.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.