Updated: Nov 15, 2021
As a new parent, you have a lot to think about as you plan your days. There may be play-dates, organized activities, social events, nap times, feeding, oh and don't forget the coffee! Even as your child grows you add to the complexity with other social circles they may have at dayhomes/daycare, or preschool.
The current pandemic of COVID 19 adds an additional aspect of uncertainty for you and your family. You may be questioning when to keep your child at home or when it is safe to go to social events. The good news is, that there are ways to keep you and your family healthy and reduce your risk for infections in general! Things like washing your hands, respiratory etiquette, cleaning your home, and social distancing.
Let's go through each of these with a bit more detail.
1) Hand washing
Seems like an obvious one, but studies have shown that we do not wash our hands as often as we should. Little ones also have a hard time with this one. The Government of Canada has a great guide for how and when we should be washing our hands. There is also a catchy Little Baby Bum song about washing hands if you are trying to get your little ones involved as well!
Essentially, we should be washing our hands:
When they are visibly dirty
Before preparing and immediately after handling food
After using the toilet
After contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g., garbage bins, cleaning cloths)
After handling pets and domestic animals
After wiping or blowing your nose, handling soiled tissues, or sneezing into your hands
After contact with blood or body fluids (e.g., vomit, saliva)
Before preparing and taking medication
Before inserting and removing contact lenses
Washing involves getting a good lather going and scrubbing all the surfaces of your hands. We recommend singing your ABCs or twinkle-twinkle litter star two times to make sure you are scrubbing long enough to get all the surfaces of your hands (including in between fingers, around your thumb, the backs of your hands, and all the way up your wrist).
2) Respiratory Etiquette
This is a fancy way of saying, "cover your mouth when you cough". Many viruses are transmitted through the very small droplets that we shoot out of our bodies when we cough or sneeze. These droplets can travel far (1-3 meters)! So how do we stop this huge radius of germ sharing? By covering our mouths/noses when we cough/sneeze. It is recommended to use a tissue or your elbow to cover up when you cough/sneeze. That way you are not coughing into your hand and then sharing those droplets through touch. You can also check out this Myth Busters episode where they put these respiratory etiquette methods to the test. It is also recommended that you wash your hands after you cough/sneeze even if you cover up with your elbow.
3) Cleaning Your Home
This is not to say you don't clean your home, but any time someone in your home is sick it is a good idea to pay special attention to the commonly used surfaces in your home, like toilets, light switches, door handles, and counter tops. There are also more than one way to clean these surfaces! The CDC has a great site that goes through the differences between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. To summarize:
Cleaning: can use chemical cleaners or soap and water to physically remove germs. This does not kill germs but it does reduce their numbers.
Disinfecting: uses disinfectants/chemicals, this kills most if not all germs. By using a combination of cleaning/removing germs and disinfecting/killing germs you can reduce the risk of spreading germs throughout your home.
Sanitizing: lowers the number of germs to a level that is approved by public health officials. Good to know for public spaces, but not necessarily important for your home.
It is also important to clean electronics such as phones, computers and other devices. If they can tolerate it, you can disinfected them with 70% alcohol (e.g. alcohol prep wipes).
4) Social Distancing
The World Health Organization recommends social distancing, meaning keeping a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) between yourself and other person. This recommendation relates back to the droplets that can spray and spread germs (revisit the Myth Busters episode).
You may also want to change the way you greet people. If you usually hug or shake hands, you may want to change to a head-nod or a greeting that maintains that 1 meter distance.
There may be imposed social distancing (i.e. when events, classes, or schools are cancelled). Although we haven't seen much of this in Calgary due to the relatively low risk of COVID-19, there have been extreme cases just south of us in the United States.
By taking these measures to help keep your family healthy you are also helping to lower the spread of germs to your friends, family, and others in your community.
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