By Virginia Hrywnak DO- Deputy Executive Director of Healthy Learning Paths, imperfect parent of 2 school-aged daughters, family physician, avid reader, and hiker
“Let’s start by replacing fear with power by teaching our kids to be Germbusters!”
Contagious and infectious germs. Scary stuff- with cold and flu season fast approaching, the Enterovirus D68 illness, and the Ebola viral illness in West Africa a lot of us worry about our health and the health of our families. What can we as parents do? Let’s start by replacing fear with power by teaching our kids to be GERMBUSTERS!
Start with proper hand washing with soap and water. People often touch their eyes, nose and mouth. Germs can get into the body through these mucous membranes and make us sick. Wash hands using warm water, soap, and at least 20 seconds of friction. What is friction? In this case, we want to rub our hands together briskly with pressure. This provides power to remove germs. Do we need a timer for the 20 seconds? Not really, just teach kids to sing the ABC’s while rubbing hands together.
Soap and water is a great first line of defense to fight germs. Hand sanitizer and wipes work in a pinch when there is no access to soap and water, but soap and water works best. Be consistent. Kids want to know they need to wash their hands when they get home, before they eat or handle food, after playing outside, after playing with pets, and after coughing or sneezing. Washing our hands helps us from spreading germs, getting sick, and missing school or work.
How are adults doing at modeling this power? According to the American Journal of Public Health, a 2009 study showed that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom. (Am J Public Health. 2009;99(2):S405-11) WE can do better!
Teach kids to cough or sneeze into their elbow. Model this for them. Throw tissues away in the trash can. Wash your hands after using a tissue. Play outside and get fresh air every day. Get plenty of sleep and eat several servings of fruits and veggies every day. Don’t share utensils, water bottles or cups.
Get the flu vaccine every Fall. It works.
Viral illnesses can make people very sick. So empower your kids to FIGHT GERMS every day.
Healthy Learning Paths empowers kids every day, one classroom at a time to “Be Well, Learn Well”.