With upcoming holiday parties and visiting, BC Children’s Hospital and the BC Centre for Disease Control are offering tips to help reduce the risk of illness.
Illnesses can be passed easily from one child to another, especially when the cold weather drives more children indoors and food is shared at gatherings.
Children are more apt to get sick from illnesses such as influenza and norovirus than healthy adults and can pass it on to others. There are simple ways to reduce this risk.
• Get immunized: although flu season is here, it’s not too late to get immunized. Make sure your child is on schedule to receive all of the vaccines available through the provincial childhood immunization program. Healthy children six months to less than five years of age are eligible for a free flu shot as are older children with many chronic medical conditions and who have household members at high risk or under the age of two years.
• Wash hands: 80 per cent of common infections are spread by hands. Children should wash their hands before eating, after using the washroom, after sneezing, coughing or using a tissue, and after playing with toys shared with other children.
Use soap and water and rub hands for 20 seconds – the time it takes to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Rinse for another 10 seconds.
Alcohol hand rubs are a good substitute if a sink is not handy.
• Cover nose and mouth: teach children to sneeze or cough into the crook of the arm rather than their hands to decrease the spread of disease from infection on the hands.
• Stay home when sick: children and the people who care for them should stay home when sick, especially if they have a fever. Don’t visit grandparents or other elderly people if you or your child is sick; older people can have much more severe illness from influenza and other infections. Adults with symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea should avoid preparing or handling food until 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhea or vomiting. You can call 811 for more information.
•Avoid sharing: encourage children not to share utensils, drinking cups and toys that they put in their mouths.
Teach children not to share items like hairbrushes, combs, hats, helmets, headphones, bedding, pillows or towels.
Also avoid sharing water bottles or drinks on sports teams or other groups.