Good-Bye Summer, Hello Germs!

September 2011
School is back in session and that means children may start to bring home more than just homework. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 22 million school days are missed annually due to the common cold alone.
The CDC also reports that students not practicing proper hand hygiene missed an average of 3.02 days per school year.
Children are exposed to a variety of germs within the classroom setting. Studies show that school-aged children are the group with the highest rates of flu and cold related illnesses. Most bacteria can live up to two hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, desks, water fountains, and pencil sharpeners. 
The good news is there are several steps students can take to help protect themselves and others from the spread of disease:
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth when your hands are not clean.
The main way germs spread is from person to person in respiratory
droplets of coughs and sneezes. Sometimes these germs spread when
students touch a surface contaminated with these droplets and then
touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for about 20 seconds
(approximately the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song
twice). Washing your hands alone can reduce students’ risk of getting sick by killing 99 percent of germs.
Wash your hands before you eat, after using the restroom, and after
handling animals, such as classroom pets. Students should also wash
their hands more often when someone in their classroom is sick..
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw the tissue away (this will help prevent the spread of bacteria to others). 
The latest trend in tissues are virucidal tissues. These tissues prevent the spread of viruses around home and school because it kills them when you blow your nose. Sneeze into tissues and cough into your elbow instead of your hands. When you sneeze or cough into your hands, you could easily spread germs when you touch a surface.
Carefully wipe down desks and keyboards.  Research done at the University of Arizona found that desk surfaces, computer keyboards, and computer mouses ranked high in levels of five bacteria (E. coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Streptococcus, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus). 
Remember where germs lurk - on doorknobs, desks, cafeteria tables,
school bus seats and windows, computer keyboards, and pencil
sharpeners. Always wash your hands after touching something in a shared area.
High-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filters, available at discount drug stores for about $40 to $100, can remove 99.97% of the pollen, dust, animal dander, and even bacteria from the air. Use one at home, or suggest the teacher use one in the classroom. Proper ventilation is also important, so open windows and doors to let fresh air in and circulate the air whenever possible.
Clean with non-toxic, environmentally-friendly cleaning products that contain only natural, biodegradable ingredients. These products kill germs and are much less likely to trigger allergic reactions or cause other health problems. Try making your own germ- killing products at home using vinegar and essential oils.
Get plenty of sleep, physical activity, water and healthy food to keep
your immune system strong.
Germs are a fact of life, and they certainly are more prevalent in public places such as schools. Teaching simple tips to your children will help them develop good hygiene, which helps prevent the spread of disease. 
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