It is that time of year. The weather is dreary and people tend to get sick. We do what we can to prevent illness:
• Proper hand washing
• Getting enough sleep
• Avoiding close contact with sick people
• Taking vitamins and supplements
• Proper nutrition and adequate hydration
• Practicing good hygiene
• Keeping a clean house
• Changing air filters and keeping ducts clean
• Using a humidifier when necessary
• Preventing and remediating mold infestation in the home
• Covering nose and mouth with tissue when sneezing or coughing
• And many more
Despite these noble efforts, people still get sick. And if people have or are around children (especially small children), they are at an even higher risk. Children are veritable Petri dishes for germs. There are many of them in school, in close quarters with each other, often not practicing proper germ prevention. They hug and kiss each other, sometimes share contaminated cups and/or snacks, often do not wash hands after using the restroom (face it, as much as they are told to by parents and teachers, they don’t always do it), cough or sneeze in each other’s faces, etc. It’s really rather disgusting.
And this is referring to relatively healthy children. When a sick child enters the equation, however, because he or she was sent to school instead of kept at home to recover; the odds of spreading germs are much worse. Now, when the sick child coughs or sneezes around other children, he or she is likely spreading harmful pathogens like strep or staph to other kids and their teachers.
Proper Hand Washing is Essential
Most children, sick or well, do not want to take the time out of their busy days of playing and learning to properly wash their hands. You can tell them to wash their hands until they are blue in the face, and they will nod their heads yes, but in the end most of them will just quickly run their hands under water, shake them off, and then run off to another activity.
Researchers from a 2009 experiment applied a clear lotion to the hands of 25 fifth grade children, and examined their hands under a germ-revealing black light after a day of typical hand washing and usage of hand sanitizers at school. At the end of the day, only two children out of the 25 showed evidence of proper hand washing. That’s pretty alarming. These were fifth graders; certainly old enough to know better. Imagine the germs that are spreading around the younger grades, preschools, and daycares.