Every year, nearly 22 million school days are lost due to the common cold alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). How can you help protect your children from viruses and bacteria, which can live for 20 minutes to two hours on surfaces such as cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks?
Taking these 10 steps will help your kids stay healthy this school year and help reduce the spreading of illness within schools:
- Sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Make sure kids wash their hands often, especially after they cough or sneeze. They should wash for 20 seconds—as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
- Cover up. Both the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu are thought to spread mostly from person to person via the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with influenza. So be sure your children understand the importance of coughing or sneezing into a tissue, and then throwing the tissue away and washing their hands.
- Go to plan B. When soap and water aren't available, kids can disinfect their hands with wipes or gels that contain alcohol. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.
- Maintain a hands-off policy. Flu can also spread by touching something that has the flu virus on it, and then touching the nose, eyes or mouth. Teach children to keep their hands away from their noses, eyes and mouths to avoid spreading germs that way.
- Don't share with others. Although sharing is an important concept for children to learn, teach your kids that they should not share cups or food. This is especially important with younger children, who often grab and drink from each other's cups.
- Use elbows, not hands. No tissue around when needed? If this occurs, instruct your children to cough or sneeze into their elbows rather than their hands. The reason is simple: We don't touch things with our elbows.
- Eat right and get some shut-eye. To help kids stay healthy all year long, make sure they eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids and get enough sleep. Children aged 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night; younger children need more. In addition to better enabling their bodies to fight illnesses, these three factors will help make them better able to concentrate in school.
- Give 'em a shot in the arm. A flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. The CDC recommends that all children from the ages of 6 months up to their 19th birthday get a flu vaccine every fall or winter (children getting a vaccine for the first time need two doses). Children under 5 years old who have had wheezing in the past year and any child with chronic health problems should get a flu shot. Healthy children aged 2 and older can receive a nasal-spray vaccine.
- Opt for a second layer of protection. You and your child's caretakers can protect your child by getting a flu vaccine, too. This is very important if your child is younger than 5 years old or has a chronic health problem such as asthma or diabetes.
- Keep their distance. Make sure your kids avoid close contact with people who are sick. According to The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, six feet is a safe distance.
Ansari, 1988; Scott and Bloomfield, 1989
Articles are provided for the general interest
of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is
not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the
appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have
concerning any financial or health related issues.
Back to top