With winter comes, unfortunately, illness outbreaks. Illness outbreaks are widespread across the country this time of year, no matter what type of climate you live in. Children are particularly susceptible to illness outbreaks but anyone can fall victim to one. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself as well as your family. Infection prevention is the best form of infection defense, and it might be simpler than you think.
To start, it’s important to practice good hand washing. Unfortunately, a scant 5% of the population in the United States washes their hands the recommended time, with over 90% washing their hands less than fifteen seconds. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends fifteen seconds as the minimum time for hand washing, but says that up to twenty seconds can be beneficial in killing harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses. Of course, antibacterial soap is also recommended for hand washing.
Surface disinfecting, both in the home and outside of it, is another great way to prevent illness outbreaks. Child care decontamination is an important part of child care infection prevention, as the flu virus alone can live on hard surfaces for up to two full days. In day care facilities, preschools, and other places that cater to large numbers of children, such as gymnastics centers, disinfecting surfaces should be a regular part of a cleaning routine, particularly during flu season. As over five million children partake in gymnastics classes alone, a protocol of regular disinfection and equipment cleanliness could help to provide the flu as well as other illnesses that are easily spread from person to person.
More common than the flu is the common cold. The common cold, like the flu, is a virus that is easily spread from person to person, especially among young children, who often do not practice good hygiene as well as an older child or adult person. Every year in the United States, around one billion colds occur. It is considered normal for one child alone to catch up to ten colds in a single calendar year. Because children catch so many colds, an estimated 22 million school days are lost in the United States alone. Facility cleanliness in schools and other places that children frequent can help to prevent these absences as well as other types of illness outbreaks.
From the flu to the common cold, winter is the time of year that illness runs rampant, particularly among young children. Fortunately, however, practicing good personal hygiene like proper hand washing and properly disinfecting homes and public facilities frequently and thoroughly can help to prevent the spread of disease and the number of people – namely children – who fall ill.