Saturday, January 10, 2015

9 Fascinating Tidbits About Germs, Handwashing & Keeping Your Family Healthy

Unlike some mothers, I am not a germophobe. I mean, kids get sick. Period. And they unwittingly spread germs. Period. In all likelihood, their father brings back more germs from his commute into the big city (subways – ewwww) than the children. Still, I am not a fan of my kids being sick. Right now, both are complaining of sore throats, although I always wonder if my younger one is telling the truth. Every time I complain of a menopausal hot flash, she claims she's having one, too. 

Being sick is no fun for anyone...

I did, however, perk up when I saw some posters about germs posted in one of the classrooms at the school where I work. 

 Let me share with you some fascinating stats about germs from the website

  • Nearly 22 million school days are lost yearly due to the common cold (not the flu – COLDS).

  • Frequent handwashing and refraining from sharing items like cups, towels, and utensils with an infected person should decrease the spread of viruses to other people.
  • More than two-thirds (or 32 million) school-aged kids (ages 5 to 17 years) in the United States missed school in the past 12 months due to illness or injury.
  • Some illnesses can live on places like doorknobs for up to two hours.
  • Students don't clean their hands as often as they should or well enough. In one study, only 58% of female and 48% of male middle and high school students washed their hands after using the bathroom. Of these, only 33% of the females and 8% of the males used soap. Ewwww....
  • Adults need to clean their hands better, too. In one study, 92% SAID they always wash their hands in public bathrooms, but only 77% were seen doing so. 

And here are some more stats from the website

- Guys are doing better at washing their hands than they have in the past. 77% of men washed their hands publicly in 2010 as compared to 66% in 2007.
- But men could do better at handwashing in sporting venues. Atlanta's Turner Field stadium had the worst percentage for men in 2010 at only 65% of men doing it. That's better, however, than just 57% in 2007. Turner Field did have the best stats for women among the sporting venues with 98% of women there washing their hands.
- Women are washing their hands more and more in public restrooms with a jump from 88% in 2007 to 93% in 2010.

I think the message here is that we really should be washing our hands more than we already are as a first line of defense against getting sick.

While soap and water is always the best, most of us hang those little bottles of hand sanitizer on our kids' backpacks; honestly, I'm just not sure my wee folk are using them all the time.

So here's what I do to minimize the chances of the family getting sick:

- Have hand sanitizer front and center when people walk into the house. I keep a big bottle of it on a cabinet and as soon as the kids or hubby walk in, they go for it.
- Always have some handy in the car or in a purse. I keep it on my purse and try to have the kids use it when they get in the car,especially after my daughter gets out of gymnastics (those mats can be NASTY). Wipes are fine, but I learned the hard way that they freeze in the winter.
- If I know someone who is sick has been in my car, I'll Lysol the car after they've been in it.
- Similarly, if a person who has been sick has been in the house, I'll wipe down doorknobs, faucets, light switches, etc. with a sanitizing wipe.
- I use hand sanitizer after using my credit card in a store. Those pens you sign with are teaming with bacteria!
- If possible, I'll use my own pen in public. Pens, again, harbor germs and you never know who has sneezed into their hands and then written something.
- Remind the family to use moisturizer on their hands at night. All that handwashing and sanitizing can dry out skin. Cracks invite germs into the body. Moisturizing stops that.
- Drink plenty of water. Flushing germs and keeping the mucous membranes hydrated during the dry winter months is essential in helping those parts of the body eliminate germs that do get into the body.

I'm not afraid of germs. I'm just vigilant about them. What methods do you take to keep your family healthy? I'd love to know!

Please note that I am not a doctor, healhcare professional or anything medical-related.  I'm just a humble mom, passing on advice that works for me.  

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