Kids Take Hygiene Into Their Own Hands

Few simple hygiene measures can go a long way in helping to protect our children from germs.

Autumn is here and kids are back in school filled with the excitement of making new friends, and participating in fall sports and other school activities. And with this comes unwanted friends: Germs! Whether you are a parent, guardian, educator or concerned citizen, we all need to remind our kids to literally take hygiene into their own hands.

According to WebMD, the average American child has 6 to 10 colds a year. In fact, children’s colds cause more doctor visits and missed school days than any other illness. And every parent knows how easily colds are passed to other family members once one child gets sick. Philip Tierno, PhD, author of The Secret Life of Germs, says a few simple measures can go a long way in helping to protect our children from germs and illness at school.

Think before you cough: Please, whatever you do, don’t cough into your hands. Teach your kids this lesson, too. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw it away and use hand sanitizer. Or cough into the crook of your elbow. Also, move away from people who are coughing and sneezing.

Hey boys- Girls rule: Research shows children, boys in particular, don’t wash their hands often enough or properly at school. In one study of middle and high school students, about half washed their hands after using the bathroom—and only 33% of the girls and 8% of the boys used soap. Pack a reminder in your kids’ lunch or backpack to use soap and warm water. They should scrub all over for about 20 seconds. Then rinse with warm water, dry with a paper towel.

Use hand sanitizer: Handwashing (with hand-drying) is the best bet against germs, but when soap and water are not available, like on field trips, sporting or other school events, an alcohol-based sanitizer is good to use. (Kids under 6 should not carry gel or use it without supervision)

Bring a pencil box: If your school permits it, give your child his/her own crayons, pencils and other classroom supplies. When kids share supplies, there are more opportunities for them to pick up germs. If your school’s rule is to co-op all the supplies for economic benefit, this may unfortunately create more student absenteeism. It might be worth asking your school educators if the kids can keep their own supplies in a pencil box. Also, mechanical pencils are a good option because the class pencil sharpener is a potential breeding ground for germs.

Don’t share at school: Yes, we can tell kids to not share at school. Of course, the obvious being to not share food and drinks but also to avoid sharing lip balms and lipstick. Also, they should avoid sharing ear buds, towels and baseball gloves along with winter hats, which can be a breeding ground for lice.

All of these tips will help keep our kids healthier and happier throughout the school year.

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About the Author
Marie-Josée Carrier

Marie-Josée joined Cascades as a Communications Advisor in 2006. Creative, playful and passionate, she is now taking on new professional challenges as she assumes the role of Communications and Sustainable Development Coordinator at Cascades Tissue Group in Toronto. Before joining the Communications Department at Cascades, Marie-Josée was a journalist, having studied political science at the Université Laval in Quebec City. She now juggles between the role she considers the most important in her life, being the mother of Mégane and Alexis, and her job as Communications and Sustainable Development Coordinator. What she finds the most exciting in her professional life is increasing Cascades’ visibility, while educating consumers about the importance of making informed decisions that are respectful of the environment. “We are all responsible for protecting the planet we live on. Sustainable development is much more than a trend; it is one of the essential foundations on which we should be basing our decisions. I am proud to work for a company that has known this for 50 years. Cascades’ philosophy and values are in line with mine, which is why I find it so easy to share them.”

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