None of the myriad of parenting books says, “Warning: small children make excellent germ transportation vehicles. Be prepared to be sick for the next ten years …”
Especially in winter. That is when the pass the germ game is in full swing and little germ transportation vehicles (aka kids) succeed in getting the entire household sick quicker than you can say “But I had plans this week..” .
We become resigned to being ill. After all, how can you teach a young child not to spread germs? Young kids touch everything and get every germ on the planet. Then, when they are sick, cough and sneeze everywhere and infect everything in their path.
So we pull out the sanitizers and go to town, feverishly washing every surface we can. But here is the rub – what is the good of sanitizing a doorknob if 2 seconds later your little germ transportation vehicle coughs into their hand and touches the doorknob again? Or sanitizing a toy if 5 minutes later they grab the toy and sneeze on it again?
Hand washing we cry! Wash your hands! But, can we realistically wash kids’ hands immediately after every cough or sneeze – before they touch anything?
Sanitizing and washing hands are awesome practices but they only clean up germs after they are release onto things. The key would be for the germs to not get released onto things right? Let’s break it down – get to the moment the damage is done…
When a child needs to cough or sneeze, what are their options?
The air? A sneeze can propel germs 90+ miles an hour infecting everything in their path.
Their hands? A child can touch 300 surfaces in 1/2 hour where those germs lay in wait for you to touch them. How many surfaces do you think the child will touch before they wash their hands? The next time you see a child cough or sneeze into their hands, watch where the germified hand go next – it is an eye opening experience.
A tissue? Great for blowing and wiping noses but rarely around for the germ laden sudden coughs and sneezes. Besides – kids, stopping to get a tissue before they cough or sneeze?
Their elbow? YES! You read it right. Elbow. Think about it. Unlike the tissue, the elbow is always there. Unlike the hand, the elbow doesn’t touch very much. Try touching a doorknob, a light switch, a handrail, the TV remote with your elbow. Not easy!
Do a Google search on cough into elbow. There are over 1,000,000 hits! You might also be surprised to know that the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and many more health experts recommend teaching your kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow. A pretty well kept secret for some reason but it totally makes sense. If kids’ germs aren’t given to everything via their hands or the air, they can’t be gotten by everyone else and the pass the germ game ends!
Although there are tons of recommendations to teach children to use their elbow there has been nothing to tell you how to teach them.
Until this year. There is a new product called Germy Wormy. www.germywormy.com It is fun, interactive, fast, easy and kids love it. With Germy Wormy you can stop the pass the germ game by giving kids a place to give their germs to – their elbow!
Just think – you could actually be able to do the plans you had for the week.