Letting a child stay off school is a dilemma for many parents. It is a sad fact, but children spread germs! This is due to their developing immune systems, dubious hygiene (particularly when they have a cold) and a lack of awareness concerning personal boundaries. They have no idea about the contagious nature of germs. They are happy to generously share them with everyone they are in contact with.

However, there are ways parents and schools limit this risk and prevent the spread of infections at home and school. These range from ensuring everyone has received advised immunisations, to making sure that children, parents and teacher all have high personal hygiene standards.

Hand washing is critical

Practising good personal hygiene is vital to control the spread of disease. it’s particularly important to know how and when to wash your hands. Everyone should wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, and after handling animals. Use soap and ensure you don’t forget to wash between your fingers and around the thumbs.

Teach your child the most effective technique for hand washing too and encourage them to properly wash their hands, particularly before eating.

How to wash you hands

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Teach children about hygiene:

Remind them and teach them about basic hygiene rules, such as not sharing food, and covering their mouth when they cough!

Catch your coughs and sneezes!

Coughs and sneezes can project germs over 3 feet. These can then survive on hard surfaces for up to an entire week.  It’s important to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue.  Flush the tissue away afterwards and always wash your hands. Make sure your child carries a pack of tissues with them. They have to know they should always cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough and sneeze.

How long should my sick child stay off school?

When changing nappies, throwing away used tissues, or coming into contact with any body fluids or cleaning chemicals, always make sure you wash your hands thoroughly. If you are looking after other people’s children and working in a professional environment, you should always wear gloves and an apron.

Clean up blood and body fluid spillages promptly

Any blood and body fluid spillages should be cleaned up immediately. This includes cleaning up blood, faeces, saliva, vomit, snot and eye discharges. Don’t just clean up spillages with water but use a product that combines both a detergent and a disinfectant and make sure it’s effective against bacteria and viruses!

Ensure everyone is fully vaccinated!

As well as getting the standard vaccinations for illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Particularly as measles has currently made a resurgence. it’s also a good idea to get a flu jab, preferably before peak flu season (November and March). Many high-risk groups will get their flu vaccination free of charge, but anyone can pay to be vaccinated.

Clean up regularly

As well as making sure to clean up spillages, it’s also important to clean your home regularly, as well as your child’s clothing. Make sure to do a thorough house clean at least once a week, paying attention to toys, surfaces and communal hotspots such as fridge hands, taps and light switches.

If a child’s clothing is soiled, wash it separately at the hottest wash setting that the fabric will tolerate.

Know when to keep a child off school

It’s often difficult to judge whether you should keep a child off school. The Public Health Agency has published the following guidance for notifiable diseases. It is important to adhere to the following advice to prevent putting other people, particularly vulnerable groups, at risk of contracting the diseases.

Public Health Agency Health Protection Duty Room provide up to date information and advice on infection control. Or, call them on 0300 555 0119.

First Aid for Life cover illnesses as well as injuries on our first aid courses and ensure you are equipped with the skills to recognise when there is something seriously wrong.

Please book on to one of our courses to ensure you have the knowledge to help your child in a medical emergency.

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

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It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. We specialise in first aid training for schools and nurseries – courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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