Information Parents Should Know About the H1N1 Virus, or, Swine Flu
In addition to child identification and child safety, we here at Ident-A-Kid are also concerned with the physical health of your child. The H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu has been a serious topic of concern among parents, schools, and officials across the country. It is important to make sure that you and your children are fully aware of the symptoms of Swine Flu and the risks that are present. It is also important to know how to guard against these risks to be sure you and your children stay healthy. Below is a list provided by Education.com of 10 things you should know about how to prevent and stop the spreading of the H1N1 virus.
1. Focus on the Obvious: Make sure to wash your hands often and for at least 30 seconds (as long as it takes to sing the ABC’s). Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep and rest. Keep your hands to yourself and don’t share utensils or food. Don’t handle other people’s food and don’t let anyone handle your food. When you have to sneeze or cough, if there isn’t a tissue available, sneeze or cough into your elbow.
2. Teach Kids that Five Feet is the Magic Number: Make sure your child knows to keep their distance away from someone who is coughing, sneezing, or sniffling, even if it seems rude. 5 feet of distance is a good amount of space to leave between you and someone that appears to be ill.
3. Wipe Down Surfaces Regularly: Make sure to wipe down all the surfaces that you and your family touches the most with disinfectant. Surfaces like the handle of a refrigerator, handrails, counters, and the outsides of garbage cans collect germs all day long. It is important to keep those surfaces clean.
4. Be Prepared to Take Time Off: According to the WHO, we are in a pandemic. In a real pandemic 1 in 3 people have the disease or carry it. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that parents should be prepared to keeps kids home for 7 days and at least 24 hours once their fever is gone. Make sure that you have a plan for who will take care of your child if he/she becomes sick. Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days, but are most contagious from the day before they show symptoms to 5-7 days afterwards. Understand that Quarantine May be Necessary: H1N1 is highly contagious. The best way to keep the rest of the family safe is to confine the child that’s ill to a certain part of the home. If there is more than one bathroom, then have your child use one that no one else can use. Although it may seem insensitive, masking yourself around your sick child may also be a good idea in order to prevent the spread of the virus. To minimize spreading, try to have only one parent take care of the child.
5. Consider the H1N1 Vaccine: A vaccine for H1N1 is in the works. According to the CDC, it may be available as early as October. To be effective, though, kids need two doses, spaced several weeks apart, so they will not be fully protected until late winter. Because the vaccines are being rushed to market, there will also not be that much time for testing them. Discuss with your partner how you feel about the H1N1 vaccine, so you’re prepared to act upon its release.
6. Invest in a Can of Disinfectant: Coughing, sneezing, and talking causes tiny droplets to fall to the ground by gravity. You can fight some of these germs with a can of disinfectant with a high alcohol content. Spray it in the center of the room, in a circular motion. That’s a good weapon against something, like flu, that primarily spreads through the air.
7. Keep Tabs on Your Child’s Friends: One of the CDC's prevention recommendations for school administrators is “social distancing”: moving desks further apart, dividing classes into smaller groups, holding classes outside or in larger classrooms, and taking other measures to limit each child’s proximity to someone who might be sick. Keeping your child home and locked in her bedroom is obviously over the top, but it makes sense to check with a friend’s parent before a play date to make sure no one in the household is sick, and to keep your child away from any family with cold symptoms.
8. Avoid Public Transportation: If at all possible, the CDC recommends skipping the school bus and public transit during the heart of H1N1 season.
9. Get the Facts Straight: Although H1N1 is also known as swine flu, it cannot be transmitted by eating pork or spending time on a farm. It is also not transmitted through pool water. The main way H1N1 spreads is through person-to-person contact— usually by being near someone who is sick and is coughing, sneezing, or talking.
Red Flags for H1N1:
If your child becomes sick with flu-like symptoms and experiences any of the following CDC warning signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish or gray skin color
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
For more information about the H1N1 Virus, symptoms, and how to prevent it, visit: www.education.com. For the article that these tips and tricks came from, visit: http://www.education.com/magazine/article/H1N1forparents/.