#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Keeping Our Children Safe!

Still on hygiene. This time, paying a little more attention to children, I repeat a post from a couple of years back that will also be useful for the fight against the New Corona Virus (COVID-19)
Do you have a child who appears to catch anything that just moves around in the air? They go to school and will catch a cold provided another child has it? They will get measles, just by looking at a child that has one…even from a safe distance (okay…that’s an exaggeration that was meant to make you smile :D). I had one of those; my daughter would pick up any virus that was making the rounds! My constant prayer everyday was, ‘lord, don’t let this child die’
And so I decided to take things personal. When she was in a crèche, I led the campaign to ensure that children who had the sniffles were kept home and not dumped on unsuspecting caregivers in school. It would amaze you how many mothers do this. I am not passing judgement here because a lot of parents have to work and so staying home to look after a sick child may not be an excuse that is readily understood by bosses. But, the child risks having a medical emergency in school that cannot be handled by caregivers and of course poses a threat to other children who were previously uninfected. If the roles were reversed, you certainly don’t want your child going to school and picking up other people’s germs. I worked with the creche to ensure that all hand held toys were disinfected every morning and after use by the children as their use of the hand held toys (at the crèche stage) simply involved dipping the toy into their mouths and sucking for dear life! Flu and other droplet infections are spread by contact with droplets from someone else who has an infection.
At the primary level, anytime I was invited to give talks, I focused on droplet infections and how they are spread. I teach the children how to wash their hands, for at least 20 seconds, preferably under running water and drying.
The steps to effective hand washing in the ‘perfect’ situation are:
Wet hands with clean running water and apply soap.Rub your hands together to make a lather and then scrub between fingers, under the nails and the back of your hands.Continue to scrub for at least 20 seconds.Rinse your hands under running water.Dry off with a clean towel.Okay, not every convenience has running water; if you’ve got one of those toilets, just ensure that you pour the clean water on to sudsy hands and scrub for 20 seconds…the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
Remember to teach your children that germs hide in every single nook and cranny, especially in shared spaces. They are on the toilet handles, the tap knob, the tissue dispenser etc. Thus, after using the toilet, wash your hands last after you have cleaned yourself up and flushed. Okay, I heard that snigger…’yeah right! Like anyone has to be taught that!’ Well, actually, quite a number of people have to be taught as we have realized that quite a number of children are not taught this early enough and would have come down with some diseases before this is realized.
Buy them hand sanitizers. Alcohol based sanitizers reduce the number of germs on hands. The children can use these even after hand washing and leaving the toilet, in cases where there was insufficient water. In addition, this is a handy tool for all those times they come in contact with ‘eewy eeckies’ and don’t have the luxury of washing their hands; when they have been shaken by someone they just observed sneezing into their hands etc. The small handy packs of sanitizers fit well into most pencil cases. The sanitizer should be applied to the palm of one hand, both hands rubbed together and product rubbed over the surface of hands and fingers until the hands are dry. Sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol are most effective, especially when water and soap are not readily available.
Teach them to sneeze into the crooks of their elbows and not into their palms. With this, we will be building the next generation of people who do not go around sneezing (rendering thousands of germs homeless) in people’s faces (finding alternative homes for these germs) or into their hands and then subsequently shaking other people’s hands (ensuring that these germs hit their mark).
Back tracking to toilet training again, teach the children especially the girls, to clean from the front backwards. Many an infection has been caused by faecal matter deposited in places where they have no business being! Girls should also be taught to clean up after urinating as early as possible. This can also aid in prevent infections that thrive in warm and moist places like candida.
So, beyond the books, stationery and inevitable school fees, let’s ensure that our children have the right health and wellness tool kit to survive a new term and come home with those amazing grades we all look forward to!

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