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Getting Ready for Back-to-School Season

Getting Ready for Back-to-School Season

Your Back-to-School Health Checklist

With the summer coming to an end, it's important to do what you can to make sure your little ones are ready for the school year ahead. The health experts at Southwest General are here to make sure you’re equipped with the right tools to make this the best school year yet!

Teaching Children the Importance of Good Hand Hygiene

When it comes to protecting yourself and others from getting sick, washing your hands is your first line of defense against harmful germs and bacteria. Even using hand sanitizer can reduce up to 20 percent of sickness-related school absences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), good hand hygiene can provide the following health benefits:

  • Can prevent up to 50 percent of cases of diarrheal diseases
  • Can reduce cases of respiratory infections by 16 to 19 percent.

How Soiled Hands Spread Germs

From opening doors to using your phone to driving your car, we use our hands during most everyday activities. While this can be particularly useful, it also means that your hands can easily transfer germs from surfaces to you or other people when they’re left unwashed.

In fact, some of the most common ways that your hands spread germs include:

  • Sneezing or coughing directly into your hands
  • Touching contaminated surfaces
  • Handling or preparing food with unwashed hands
  • Eating food without washing your hands beforehand
  • Touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Proper Handwashing Techniques

Although washing your hands always is a great idea to help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs and bacteria, it’s only effective when done properly. When showing your little one how to wash their hands, be sure to stress the importance of these steps:

  • Wet your hands clean, running water
  • Lather your hands with soap, getting the backs of your hands and under your nails
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse your hands with clean, running water
  • Dry your hands with a clean hand towel or air dry them.

Using Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

While it’s best to wash your hand with running water and soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative. To get the most out of using sanitizer, be sure to follow these steps:

  • Apply a quarter-sized amount of sanitizer to the palm of your hand
  • Rub your hands together, getting all the surfaces of your hands
  • Continue rubbing your hands together until your hands are dry.

Practicing Food Safety When Packing Lunch

Keep Food Fresh

When packing lunch for your child or teen, it is important to keep in mind that certain foods need to be kept in a specific temperature range to ward off illness-causing bacteria, preferably on the colder side. This is because bacteria thrives at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F.

Once cooked, most foods should be refrigerated within two hours of preparing them. If you can, use a cool pack in your child’s lunch to prevent food poisoning.

Be Mindful of Leftovers

While it's common to pack leftovers for your little one's lunch, it is important to know when certain foods should be thrown out rather than packed for school. In most instances, leftovers should be eaten within three to four days of being prepared. Otherwise, the food may begin to spoil before it's noticeable.

Take Precautions When Sharing Food

While sharing food and snacks is a normal part of going to school, as a parent, you can help to keep your child and their classmates safe by instilling healthy habits. Some tips to teach your child include:

  • Wash your hands before eating
  • Only share pre-packaged goodies
  • Do not share drinks and straws.

These tips can help your little one to prevent the spread of germs!

Make Sure Children Are Up to Date on Their Shots

Getting vaccinated is your first line of defense against certain preventable diseases that have the potential to be harmful and even fatal. Because children and teens spend a lot of their time in close proximity to others at school, it is especially important for them to be up to date on their vaccines.

In addition to the seasonal flu shot, the following vaccines are recommended for children between aged one and 10 to get the following vaccines:

  • Chickenpox
  • Hepatitis A
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)

Children between aged of 11 and 18 also should receive the following immunizations:

  • Meningococcal conjugate
  • Meningococcal disease
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines
  • Tdap

Remember Skin Protection for Outdoor activities

Whether your child is a student-athlete or has gym class outdoors, it is important to help protect their skin from uncomfortable sunburns.

Pack the Right Sunblock

As you help your child pack their bag for school, be sure to include sunscreen. To ensure their skin is properly protected, make sure the sunscreen you choose meets the following criteria:

  • Labeled as being “broad spectrum”
  • Has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • Is water resistant.

Remember Sunglasses with UV Protection

Another great way to protect your little one from the sun is to make sure they have sunglasses that have UV protection. This not only helps to protect their eyes, but the delicate skin around them too.

For the best eye protection, make sure your child’s sunglasses meet the following criteria:

  • Block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation
  • Have lenses that are matched in color
  • Screen out 70 to 90 percent of visible light.

Instill Other Sun Safety Tips

Along with wearing sunblock and sunglasses, these additional tips can help prevent sunburn other heat-related illnesses as your child spends time outdoors:

  • Wear protective clothing like long sleeves and pants when appropriate
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before reading outdoors
  • Stay hydrated during activity.

Primary and Specialty Care in Ohio

The Southwest General Medical Group, Inc. includes both primary care and specialty care physicians who are committed to providing patients with high-quality medical care. Our team of board-certified specialists and skilled physicians work to raise the bar for excellence in health care service for our community. To learn more about our primary and specialty care services or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.