Backpack Petri dishes
Now that the back-to-school routine is fully in progress, parents can be sure that more is coming through the door every afternoon than sweet little faces. ‘Tis the start of the season for colds, stomach bugs and more. But there are ways to fortify your home against the germ onslaught, at least a bit.
“When we talk about what often comes home from school with kids, you’re primarily talking about viruses and colds,” Jeff Broome, a pediatrician with Parkside Pediatrics, said.
Starting in September, those illnesses are on the rise. Broome said they are transmitted by hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth and by the inhalation of droplets that become airborne from coughing and sneezing. The close proximity of the classroom plays a role.
Rhinovirus, which causes colds, can survive on the skin for up to two hours and possibly up to a day on hard surfaces, Broome said.
“In the right conditions, in theory, a virus could sit there for a day and you could pick it up,” he said. “The best method for preventing transmission of the common cold is hand washing. It sounds super simple but it is one of the most effective ways to stay well. Try to be diligent and encourage children as best they can to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.”
Hand sanitizer is a great, convenient option when kids can’t wash their hands, Broome said.
And what about those viral tagalongs that come home on, well, pretty much everything?
“Just because it doesn’t look dirty, doesn’t mean it isn’t,” Broome said.
Water bottles and lunch boxes should be cleaned daily. Broome said disinfecting hard surfaces, wiping down backpacks and even (properly) cleaning phones, tablets and computers can help.
Flu shots will be widely available by mid- to late-September and are recommended for people ages 6 months and older. Getting the vaccine early is important, since it takes about two weeks to provide protection. And the flu isn’t just a nuisance. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which looked at data from flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that getting a flu shot reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by 65 percent among healthy children.
“Even if it doesn’t prevent the flu, the clinical course seems to be shorter than if they didn’t have the shot,” Broome said.
If your child does get sick, Broome said it is important to note that antibiotics won’t treat the common cold.
“Most of these upper respiratory infections are caused by a virus,” he said.
For more information about getting ready for flu season, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu.
Here are two from the myriad of sanitizers available in stores and online:
· HÄNS is a dual-sided, all-in-one cleaner for smartphones, tablets, touchscreens and more. It is fully reusable and refillable. For details and a how-to video, visit https://hans-swipe.com.
· CleanWell’s botanical hand sanitizer spray and wipes are free of chemicals (no triclosan, quaternary ammonium or alcohol) and gentle on sensitive skin. Learn more at https://cleanwelltoday.com.