While there, I co-hosted a small mom meet-up at this interactive exhibit along with Jen, Marinka and Nicole. Emily from The Motherhood (who coordinated the event) was also there along with Nikki, Heidi, Susanna, Lisa and Carla. The whole point was to educate moms and kids about the relevance of cold and flu season year-round. (Personally, I wanted to ask about the swine flu. Moms are talking about that a lot here in NYC.)
We were all fortunate enough to be learning about battling cold and flu viruses from Nurse Jean Grabeel, Executive Committee Member of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). Below are some of her top tips for fighting cold and flu viruses at home and in the classroom.
1. Help kids to understand the importance of thoroughly washing their hands. Teach them to wash them after going to the bathroom, before meals, after playing outside and after playing with various manipulatives (i.e. arts & crafts projects and such).
2. Have hand sanitizer available. (Ask teachers if it is available in every classroom.)
3. Teach the importance of coughing and sneezing into a tissue with their mouth and nose. If tissues aren’t available, encourage them to sneeze into their arms. (Of course, she recommends Kleenex Anti-Viral (KAV) Tissues – in part because it’s the only tissue product that kills 99.9% of all cold and flu bugs.)
4. Make sure that kids are up to date on their immunizations.
5. Practice good nutrition (Water, balanced diet, multi-vitamin, etc.)
(Jean also stressed that parents should keep their kids at home for 24 hours after symptoms – 100+ degree temperatures/ coughing/ vomiting/ diarrhea/etc. – are gone.)
You might be asking, “Why are we talking about the cold and flu in August?” According to research, nearly 70% of student illnesses in 2008 did not happen during the “typical” cold & flu season. (On a side note, we all know about “summer colds” and the “summer flu” – they are especially miserable!) That is why Jean stressed the importance of starting (or continuing) to practice healthy habits now. That way, those habits will be second nature at back-to-school time. She explained that when someone sneezes, 100,000 droplets are released within three feet. Since kids haven’t learned to keep their distance from one another, those germs can enter into their system.
I found this information to be especially helpful since Michael is (hopefully!) going to kindergarten next month. Pre-kindergarten was tough on him physically. Fortunately, he didn’t catch the flu, but he did have a lot of colds. A large part of that was due to the fact that he had never been in a group child care setting on a consistent basis and his body needed to build up immunity. In regards to my kids’ health, I just want to make sure that I’m covering all of the bases regarding things that I can (reasonably) control. With nearly 30 years of experience in the healthcare field, Jean was definitely the one to answer my questions!
(FYI: I was paid to co-host this event. Yay – gravy!)