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Kids bring germs home from school, which every parent knows as the back-to-school plague. But now the problem has staggering numbers behind it. A new study by scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine reveals that families with school-age kids have viral infections for an astonishing 87 percent of the year. And the more kids, the more sickness. The research discovered that people without kids are infected with viruses just 3-4 weeks per year. Add one child to the household drives that figure up to 18 weeks-which is 35 percent of the year-and a second child to 29 weeks. By the time a family has six children, there's a virus in the household for up to 45 weeks per year.1
No matter how many kids in the house, some basic germ-fighting tips can help minimize the frequency and severity of school season illnesses for kids and parents.
Teaching kids to keep germs to themselves can help prevent the spread of flu and cold infection. Show kids how to sneeze or cough in the crook of their elbow and not on their hands, so they can stop the spread of germs on their own. You can't ensure they will use this lesson at school, but you can reinforce at home to keep sick kids from infecting the household.
It's more than just their hands that bring home germs. School bags including backpacks become germ-carriers as well, as kids transfer bacteria from bathroom stalls, classroom desks and lockers to their backpacks, which hitchhike home to infect the household. Occasionally wipe down backpacks with antimicrobial cleaners and make kitchen tables and countertop no backpack zones.
Helping kids with their homework may involve them using home computers and workstations that everyone in the house uses. This means the germs they picked up from the playground can now be transmitted to your home office. In fact, a computer keyboard can typically have 7,500 bacteria per swab. It's best to maintain regular workstation sanitizing as part of the home chores routine. You can also use keyboards, mice, and other home office accessories that are Microban-protected. This surface treatment helps reduce the spread of contact germs during homework time.
Most parents don't realize that germs are not limited to surfaces. They can float in the air too. In fact, the droplets carrying germs from a sneeze or cough can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Along with disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, using a home air purifier can help prevent airborne germs from making the household sick.
You can't stop kids from bringing home germs from school, but you can do your best to prevent stop infections from making everyone at home miserable. Take a germ-free stance as part of your back to school plan so you can look forward to healthy school year.
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