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Preschool Education Articles

AAAAA-CHOOO! - Keeping a Healthy Home

As cold season begins, it's important to remember that regular cleaning and disinfecting household surfaces can reduce the spread of cold-causing germs. As a child care provider, you are working with an at-risk population: over 50% of preschool children are now in some type of child care.

Although we know that personal hygiene plays a role in good health, we don't generally think about household surfaces in the spread of infectious diseases. We know that many germs are capable of surviving from a few hours up to three days on moist surfaces; some germs are capable of growing to large numbers in a short time; and very few viruses are needed to cause an infection.

Surfaces play a major role in transmission of germs among children in group care situations. Some germs are easily transferred from surfaces to hands, and then, by touching, to our eyes, nose, or mouth. Contaminated surfaces also transfer bacteria, like salmonella, by direct contact with food or from hand to food during food preparation.

Regular cleaning and proper disinfecting are two simple ways to reduce the spread of disease. First clean surfaces to remove dirt and food particles where microorganisms can grow; then kill germs with disinfectants. A simple disinfecting solution for tables, counters, and food preparation equipment is 1 tablespoon liquid bleach in 1 quart of warm water or 1/4 cup liquid bleach in 1 gallon warm water. Wash surfaces with a detergent solution, and rinse with water. Then apply the disinfecting solution with a paper towel, and allow to air dry.

Remember, germs on surfaces can cause illness. Keep surfaces clean to help yourself and the children in your care stay healthy this winter!

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
(1993). Aaaaa-chooo! In M. Lopes (Ed.) CareGiver News (December, p.4).
Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.

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