Fortunately, there are many preventive measures you and your child can
take to help stop illness in its tracks. From food poisoning to the flu,
the following tips can help your child stay a little healthier this school year.
Start with a strong defense
Send your child to school protected against germs by making sure he or
she is up-to-date with immunizations.
From chickenpox to measles to the flu, vaccines are a quick and relatively
easy way to protect against many infectious diseases.
At your child’s next doctor visit, find out which vaccines your child
needs. Some shots are needed only once or twice in a lifetime. Others
are needed more often. The flu vaccine, for example, is needed every year.
Scrub-a-dub, give germs the rub
It’s no secret: Handwashing is the very best way to prevent the spread
of germs. Help your kids get in the habit. Remind them they need to wash
their hands—whether at home or at school—after using the restroom,
before eating, after blowing their nose and after playing.
Kids should wash their hands even more frequently when someone they hang
out with is sick.
Scrubbing hands with soap and rinsing with warm water is best. But an alcohol-based
hand sanitizer does the trick when water isn’t available.
Pack jelly, not germs
Your child’s lunch can be a source of some really nasty germs that
cause foodborne illness. And, in this case, prevention starts at home.
Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. It's best to use an insulated
lunch bag. If you have to use a non-insulated container, use ice packs
or frozen juice boxes to keep lunch goodies cool. Put hot foods in a thermos
to keep them warm until lunchtime.
Wash fruits and veggies before packing them up. And wash out lunch boxes
and food containers every day to keep germs at bay.
Keep foods and drinks to yourself
We try to teach our kids that sharing is a good thing. But when it comes
to germs, it’s better to be a little, well, selfish.
Kids may be used to swapping and sharing food, utensils and drinks at lunchtime.
Or they may pass the water bottle around the team at practice. Germs can
pass from hands to mouth to food items and back again. Those food items
can turn into a veritable hotbed of germ activity.
Remind your kids to keep their lunch items, water bottles, napkins, etc.,
Watch for locker room germs
Bacteria thrive in the moist, close conditions of the gym and locker room.
And the close-contact nature of athletics is a prime opportunity for germs
to spread. Infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus), the antibiotic-resistant super bug, can make the rounds in short order.
Remind your young athlete never to share personal items such as towels
or razors. Washing hands or using sanitizer before and after workouts
can help eliminate infections.
Know the signs of a MRSA infection: red bumps that quickly turn into painful
abscesses. Quick treatment can keep the problem from getting worse.
Put an end to the journey of the germ
If your child is the one who is sick, it’s time to reinforce a few
rules of illness etiquette.
First and foremost, your child should stay home if he or she is very sick.
Fever, diarrhea and vomiting are all good indicators that school is a no-go.
If your child is well enough to mix and mingle, issue a few reminders that
will help keep germs from spreading: Use a tissue to cover coughs and
sneezes, or cough into the elbow if no tissue is available. And, again,
wash those hands!