Lila has a lot of friends in the hospital right now. One was medi-flighted to the hospital overnight, and another died today. All due to germs. Some of us don’t think a little sneeze is a big deal. But it’s super traumatic to the parent who sees their child on a ventilator all because they ventured out to enjoy a family lunch at Chic-Fil-A.
Germs are silently lurking everywhere, and for some people, it’s a huge risk to do simple things like go to the grocery store or attend school.
Sensitivity to germs is not limited to Down syndrome; many children and adults, with and without the diagnosis, are medically frail. As crazy as some parents try to be with disinfectants, germs are unavoidable, especially without everyone’s help to keep germs at bay.
Many times, you’re contagious, and you don’t even know it. For example, with the flu, ”you're contagious from 1 day before you have any symptoms. You stay that way for 5 to 7 days after you start feeling sick. Kids may be able to spread the virus for even longer, until all of their symptoms fade. Most of the time, it's through droplets in the air,” reports Web MD. By the time you realize it’s the flu, you have likely spread your germs everywhere.
Germs can lead to hospitalization and death for some people, even germs that many feel are harmless like the common cold. For some, this is a constant reality, while for others, certain seasons can prove more dangerous than others.
According to the Washington Post, “Flu killed and hospitalized more people in the United States last winter than any seasonal influenza in decades.” It will take all of us to reduce that number in the coming year, to keep from spreading the illness around.
Do your part by avoiding the spread of germs! Here are 10 tips:
1. If it is possible, stay home when you’re sick. Keep your kids home when they‘re sick. If you have a fever, you are most definitely contagious, so keep your germs confined at home. Most people with medically fragile children already avoid places where there could be germs, and they avoid unnecessary activities. But they have to go to work and school. You can help by ensuring that they won’t encounter your germs wherever they go.
2. Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Teach your kids to do this too. The flu can be caught through droplets in the air. Yuck!
3. Wash your hands often and well. Make sure your kids do this too. Can you imagine how many things you touch in a day? Treat it as if you just handled raw chicken, and you don’t want to spread salmonella everywhere!
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. You will get sick by introducing germs into your body this way, but if you have an illness, you will also spread it faster by doing these things.
5. Especially if you aren’t a family member, don’t touch a child’s hands (because they may put them in their mouth). Don’t get in their faces and kiss them. Babies are irresistible, but touch their leg or sock, even if you think you’re well.
6. The CDC recommends that you stay up-to-date on your vaccinations. That, of course, is a personal choice for you, but please remember that vaccinations are not optional for some medically fragile people. While you or your child may be able to survive some of these illnesses, others whom you expose may not be so lucky. If you don’t get vaccinated, please be extra cautious around medically fragile people.
7. At home and work, clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, remotes, keyboards, toys, and phones to help remove germs. Lysol is your friend.
8. Ask how often your child’s school is disinfected. Buy a container of disinfectant wipes for your child’s class. You may need to have your child bring home his common items, like a naptime blanket, so you can clean or wash them.
9. Make sure your home, workplace, or child’s school have a good supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, and disposable disinfectant wipes.
10. Don’t share things like towels, lipstick, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated with respiratory germs. Don’t share food, utensils, or beverage containers with others.
If everyone does his/her part, maybe we’ll see less deaths due to the spread of germs this coming cold & flu season.
Resource 1: CDC Resources
Resource 2: A parent’s perspective
Resource 3: How to navigate bringing your med fragile child home
Resource 4: Washington State Department of Health
Resource 5: Washington Post
Resource 6: Web MD - Contagious