It’s almost that time of year again, kids are getting ready to head back to school. Amid the excitement of the new school year and the return of routine after a long summer holiday, it’s easy to forget about the downside to children spending a lot of time together indoors: exposure to omnipresent viruses, bacteria, and fungi, oh my! You may be tempted to send your child to school in a Bubble Boy-style bubble, but alas, germs are a part of life (and, darn it, those bubbles aren’t on Amazon…). Jokes aside, while there isn’t a fail-safe strategy for germ busting or keeping kids from getting sick, there are some steps that you can take to help keep your little learners healthy.
Teach & Practice Good Hand Hygiene.
Basic hand-washing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of colds, the flu, and viruses. To help eliminate germs, it’s important to teach your child to always wash their hands after using the bathroom, blowing their nose, handling trash, touching animals, playing on the playground, using shared electronics, after coming home from school or a play date, and before touching food. Soap and warm water can be used for at least 20 seconds to wash away all of those icky germs. To get in the habit of washing their hands long enough, have your child sing the ABCs twice while they wash up. Aside from good hand-washing habits, it’s important to teach children to keep their hands off their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Routinely Clean & Disinfect School Items.
To help keep germs at bay, have your children leave their school backpacks and shoes that they wear to school near the front door instead of taking them into their bedrooms or other high-traffic areas in the house. Once a week, perhaps on a Friday afternoon after the kids come home from school, have them clean their backpacks and the shoes that they wear to school. Spray the backpacks and shoes with Vital Oxide to disinfect and eradicate germs. Vital Oxide is gentle enough to be used on fabric without causing damage. Bonus: Vital Oxide is also a powerful odor eliminator, so you can say goodbye to that stinky gym shoe smell! Also be sure to use Vital Oxide to disinfect things like toys (including stuffed animals) that your child has taken to school. Lunch boxes should be cleaned and disinfected with Vital Oxide on a daily basis.
Exercise Regularly & Get Plenty of Rest.
It’s no secret that active kids are healthier kids. Experts recommend that children get at least one hour of physical activity every day. Need some ideas? You can take family walks on the beach, or go on a bike ride, play soccer, shoot hoops in your driveway, go for a swim, play catch in the backyard, hula hoop, play hopscotch, attend a family yoga class, or have a dance off in the living room. The possibilities are endless! In addition to being active, kids need plenty of rest. Experts say that kids need 8 to 12 hours of sleep each night to keep their bodies strong.
Eat from the Rainbow.
Sorry kids; Skittles don’t apply here! Good nutrition is essential to building a strong immune system. During the start of the school year, it's especially important to avoid non-nourishing and heavily processed foods which can aggravate symptoms and make it harder for the immune system to respond to illness. Children are particularly susceptible to the cold and flu virus, so steering clear of junk foods is imperative for a healthy immune system. Instead, go for fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Have a picky eater? Try making meals more interesting by cutting fruits and vegetables into fun shapes.
Explain Good “Germ Etiquette” to Your Children.
Educating kids on germs and how to keep them from spreading should start at home, and from a young age. Kids should be taught to cover their own coughs and sneezes using a tissue when possible, or to cough or sneeze into their elbow (instead of into their hands) when tissues aren’t available, and to always wash their hands right away to minimize the spread of germs to others. It’s a good idea to advise your kids to steer clear of schoolmates who seem like they might be sick. Also, warn your children not to share their food or drinks, as well as things like ear buds and lip balm or other cosmetics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water fountain spigots are the germiest places in a school. In fact, a recent study surprisingly showed that there were more germs found on an average classroom water fountain spigot than there were on a toilet seat. Yep, you read that right. Gross! To avoid these germs, provide your child with a water bottle and advise them to steer clear of the water fountain.
Make Sure Your Kids Are Prepared.
When someone is infected with a cold or flu, the virus can actually live on surfaces they touch for up to 48 hours, meaning that the virus can easily be spread to someone else hours or even days after initial contact. Children have a habit of touching everything, but before you head to your child’s school and start spraying everything with disinfectant, relax: simply being consistent about cleaning key items, such as your child’s desk at school, can help to contain viruses and bacteria. To help keep germs from spreading from school to your home, you can have your child keep a small 3 oz. bottle of Vital Oxide in their backpack. They can simply wipe down their desk each morning before class starts to keep the germ load down.
Sick Days Are Inevitable.
There are so many steps we can take to help guard our children against infections and to build up their immune systems to make them strong and resistant to illness. However, if they do get sick with a cold, flu, or other infectious illness, experts recommend keeping them at home until they have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the illness further. Have your child rest while they are sick and try to keep them in one area of the house away from other family members if possible. When going to battle against germs in the household, arm yourself with a bottle of Vital Oxide and disinfect strategically. Some hot spots for germs include door knobs, sinks, bathrooms, counter tops, and floors. To disinfect your floors, simply dilute Vital Oxide with warm water and mop. You can also use Vital Oxide to disinfect your child’s bedroom, playroom, and toys. It only takes 60 seconds for Vital Oxide to eradicate 99.999% of bacteria. Unlike conventional harsh aerosol disinfectants, Vital Oxide is fragrance-free, and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals like bleach, parabens, or phalphalates, so you can disinfect with confidence and not have to worry about polluting the air in your home with irritants and aggravating your child’s symptoms.
From all of us at Vital Oxide, we hope that you have a happy and healthy school year!