Want fewer colds in 2018?

Start this year off right with good infection prevention habits

Childhood infections such as the flu and the common cold are caused by germs called viruses, which are spread very easily, especially in preschool and school-aged children. Germs can spread from person to person

• Direct contact or touch

• Indirect contact, for example, if a child touches an infected surface like a toy, a door handle or a keyboard, and then put his hands to his own eyes, nose, or mouth

• Virus droplets being passed through the air, for example, from coughing or sneezing

Preventing the spread of infection is crucial

As there usually is no specific treatment for these infections, the best bet is preventing them in the first place by practicing and teaching good “infection control/prevention” habits. The following tips will help prevent germs from spreading to others:

• Children should be taught at an early age to wash their hands after any contact with their mouth or nose, especially before and after meals or snacks.

• Children should be taught to cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.

• Facial tissues should be used for runny noses and to catch sneezes. These should be immediately put into the garbage after each use.

• Avoid kissing your child on or around the mouth or face.

• Anyone who comes in close contact with someone with the flu should wash their hands before and after contact.

• Dishes and utensils should be washed in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.

• Children should not share pacifiers, cups, utensils, washcloths, towels or toothbrushes.

• Disposable paper cups should be used in the bathroom and kitchen.

• Disinfecting is important as certain germs can live for more than 30 minutes on doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops and toys. Use a disinfectant or soap and hot water to keep these areas clean.

• Children should learn at an early age to get used to the good habit of always washing their hands after going to the bathroom.

• Parents and other caregivers should always wash their hands after changing a baby’s diaper.

Handwashing is very important

Children often carry and spread infections, so it would be important that they learn to wash their hands at an early age. Before they are able to wash their hands on their own, parents should wash their hands for them. Here is the proper way of washing your hands:

• Wet your hands with warm running water.

• Apply liquid or foam soap.  Do not use bar soap.

• Rub the soap vigorously into lather over all surfaces of your hands.

• Continue washing for 15 to 20 seconds in order to remove germs. (No clock? 20 seconds is about the length of the song “Happy Birthday”).

• Pay special attention to your fingertips, the area under your nails, between your fingers, on the backs of your hands and the base of your thumbs.

• After 15 to 20 seconds of cleaning, rinse your hands well under warm running water.

• Dry your hands well with a paper towel. Pat them dry, instead of rubbing them, to help prevent chapping.

• Turn off the water tap using the paper towel and then throw it into the garbage.

It is important that children and adults wash their hands before and after preparing, handling, serving or eating food, after any contact with anyone who has an infection, and of course, after going to the bathroom.