Sharing Germs: How To Help Your Kids Be Aware

Sharing Germs: How To Help Your Kids Be Aware

It’s impossible to prevent sharing germs completely. Read our expert tips to avoid the spread of colds and viruses between friends and family – particularly crucial during the pandemic.

As the weather changes, it is especially important not to let our guard down when it comes to cold and flu. But how do we do our part in preventing the spread of germs from one person to another? Sara Anne Healy, MD, who practices Pediatrics, Infectious Disease at Renown Medical Group – Pediatrics, has insight. 

How are viruses like flu passed between kids?

When a child coughs or sneezes, infected droplets move through the air and get into another child’s mouth or nose. 

The flu virus can also live on surfaces or objects for a short period (2-8 hours) and then spread to other kids when they come into contact with these surfaces and then touch his/her own eyes, mouth and nose.

What things do you recommend kids NOT share during the flu season?

In general, regardless of the season, don’t share the following to avoid spreading viruses, such as the flu:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Towels
  • Bars of soap
  • Loofahs
  • Food utensils
  • Dishes and glassware

Anything that touches another individual’s mouth or nose and can touch your face puts you at risk for viral infections. 

Why are objects breeding grounds for viruses?

Objects we regularly use, especially with constant contact with our hands (for example, cell phones), are used in situations where we wouldn’t generally wash our hands first. This repetitive checking, swiping, and typing on the cell phone between you and your kids can quickly spread viruses (and bacteria) from one individual to the next. Other objects, such as towels or water bottles, allow moisture to develop and persist – a breeding ground for germs. 

Why is it so common for viruses to spread at places like schools?

Schools are inherently prime locations for the spread of viruses, given the close group setting of kids and the sharing of supplies and equipment.

Is there anything else kids and parents should keep in mind when considering how germs and viruses spread?

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • If sick with a flu-like illness, stay home from daycare or school for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Cough into elbows or cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. And then throw that tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or if not available, with an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces and objects. 

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