Protecting your child from another dangerous 'intruder'

Monday, January 14, 2013

The McCook Public Schools recently conducted a drill covering the possibility of a school intruder and the most effective responses.

Yes, a dangerous school intruder incident could occur here, and officials are wise to play through possible scenarios with students and staff. Fortunately, such incidents are rare.

Unfortunately, for younger children, there's another "intruder" who sends 20,000 children under the age of 5 to the hospital each year, and which killed 348 children in 2009.

That was the year of the H1N1 influenza pandemic, but even during "normal" flu outbreaks in other recent years, pediatric deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranged from 46 to 153 children per year.

And while some of those children had underlying medical conditions such as asthma, more than 40 percent of hospitalized children had no other medical conditions.

Having your child vaccinated for influenza is the single most important step you can take to protect him or her, according to the CDC, but there are some other steps that are as easy as singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

Singing that tune, or the "Happy Birthday" song a few times while washing their hands will ensure that younger children wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, according to the American Red Cross.

Washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is an important step to avoid getting the flu.


* Rinse and dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.

* Use the towel to turn off the faucet.

* Rub thoroughly over the entire hand, including nail areas and between the fingers.

* Continue to rub until the product dries.

If a child has to cough or sneeze, parents should teach them to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue and wash their hands afterwards. If they don't have a tissue, they should be taught to cough or sneeze into their elbow or upper arm, not their hands

Kids should also be taught to avoid sharing such things as utensils, cups and bottles, and to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth.

Keep surfaces like bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

If someone in the household is sick, try to keep the sick person in a separate room from others in the household, if possible.

If your child becomes ill, consult your doctor. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids, and if he or she is breathing fast or having trouble breathing, has bluish or gray skin color, refuses to drink, is vomiting, irritable or has trouble staying awake, get the child medical help right away.

The child should stay home from school or daycare until at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.

Visit redcross.org/FluTips for more information.

Visit ScrubClub.org for an interactive Web site on hand washing, including cartoon Webisodes featuring soaper-heroes, music and games.

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