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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Fun Kids & Germs

Boy playing outside

I have a few grandkids, but with the birth of the last one – cutest granddaughter ever by the way, but then aren’t they all? – it really hit me how important it is I help teach her about cleanliness. Especially now that she’s two, going to daycare, and coming home sick.

I’m not a germaphobe but I am more cautious and I do notice how much I’ve stopped putting my hands on my face. I’m one of those when absorbed in working, I lean on an elbow and my face rests in my hand(s), near my mouth (Ick!).

When you think about it, who knows what germs are on the surface of the computers keyboard, your cell phone, the loofah you shower with, the razor you shave with, etcetera and so on.

Now that its summer (and where I’m at the temperatures have been soaring); I’m sure there are plenty of kids pleading for some pool time, outdoor activities, and other fun stuff. And who are we to spoil their fun and disappoint them?

Spoiling the fun or not, here are some things you should be aware of. Its good information to have locked away in the deep, recesses of your mind.

Public Pools, Hot Tubs, Recreational Water Parks

When I was younger and my kids were little, hey, I had no problem taking a dip in the pool, jumping in with them and the hordes of others in the pool. I didn’t think much of the germs. Today, I’m picky about the pools I use. Why?

Even though public pools are treated daily, chlorine doesn’t instantly kill the germs. According to the CDC:

“There are germs today that are very tolerant to chlorine that were not known to cause human disease until recently. Once these germs get in the pool, it can take anywhere from minutes to days for chlorine to kill them. Swallowing just a little water that contains these germs can make you sick.

The illnesses are called Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI).

RWIs include a wide variety of infections, such as gastrointestinal, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic, and wound infections. The most common RWI is diarrhea.”

Swimming is a healthy and fun way of getting exercise which is important for people of all ages. It’s also important we teach our kids how to swim, as drowning ranks fifth among the leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Staying out of a pool is not always easy to do or even practical, especially when you’re trying to stay ahead of the heat.

What Can You Do to Help Reduce the Risk of Public Pool Germs?

Below is a list of the things you can do – and pass on to others – to help reduce the risk of germs your kids can get from swimming in public areas.

  •     No poo and pee. It doesn’t need to be in the water. Make sure you frequently take your younger children in for potty breaks.
  •     Make sure you (adults) frequently take bathroom breaks often. The CDC says every 60 minutes.
  •     Don’t swim if you’re sick or have diarrhea.
  •     Make sure you rinse before getting in the water – each time. The outdoor shower area is provided and is there for a reason.
  •     Wash your hands after potty breaks and after changing diapers.
  •     Don’t swallow the water.

For more healthy swimming tips, take a look at the link below the CDC shares on “How We Can Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses.

Playground Germs

Playgrounds are another place we take our kids for summertime fun. Have you thought of the amount of germs these places have?

Again, you can’t always avoid these places if you want your kids to have fun, but there are tons of germs you really should be aware of. Some are:

  •     Salmonella (bacterial disease of the intestinal tract)
  •     Shingella (bacteria that can infect the digestive tract and cause a wide range of symptoms, from diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, and nausea)
  •     Hepatitis Virus (Hep A)
  •     Norovirus (These viruses are transmitted through fecally contaminated food or water; personal contact; and contamination of surfaces)
  •     E.coli
  •     Staph
  •     And human feces (there’s that dreaded word again) on many surfaces.

Kids and adults can ingest bacteria by putting hands in the mouth. Even though adults know better, you don’t think twice about kissing owies.

What Can You Do to Reduce the Risk of Germs When Playing at the Park?

Here are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of your kids picking up many of the germs hanging around parks.

  •     Teach your children good hygiene.
  •     Encourage them to wash their hands.
  •     Teach them to Not put their hands in their mouth.
  •     Sanitize their little hands often.
  •     Take them potty regularly.

I have read where some people have said the sunlight and heat will kill germs but I don’t think I believe it. I mean if it was true, wouldn’t it kill all germs that come in contact with the heat and sunlight? And I don’t think that happens.

Enjoy your summer, take these things into consider. Your kids should enjoy their youth but we can help keep them as healthy as we can.

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