Back to School?!

9 08 2010

The kids are staggering around, moaning about school’s approach while we parents giggle in our sleep.  We have to put in some work to get our little sweetums of all ages launched into the new school year, but the payoff is worth it.  The kids – out of the house!

Vaccines.  Have to get pre-schoolers, collegians and everyone in-between up-to-date on those immunizations.  Ice cream afterward, no matter the age.

Flu.  Ok, this seems like it should be with the vaccines above, but most of us focus on the immunizations we need to get done before the kids go back to school, and this one usually isn’t available in clinics until September/October.  Put it on the calendar, because it’s easy to forget.  Check with your provider about each member of your family getting vaccinated against influenza.  It’s important.

Cover coughs.  With kids crammed into classrooms and adults back at the office after summer holiday, diseases have a chance to spread quickly.  Show the kids how to cough (or sneeze) into their elbows, or into tissues.  This helps stop the germs from floating around and being inhaled by others, or from landing on surfaces that others then touch, picking up the germs on their hands.

Wash hands.  Washing our hands throughout the day, and always after using the bathroom and before we eat, is an all-around good habit.  It’s one of the most effective ways to prevent infections.  Show the kids how to wash their hands.  We didn’t know there was a particular way that worked best until we had a nurse come in and show us prior to making this little video a few years ago.

Dating.  There will be a lot more interaction between teens after school starts.  Even though they know about STDs, it doesn’t hurt for them to hear us talk about the ways diseases spread.  It’s surprising how parents’ willingness to talk, and talk often, can impact a teen’s choices.  Also, thanks to the recent vampire craze, we have to explain that biting your date’s neck can spread all sorts of diseases.

Any parents out there want to chime in on what they do or say to keep their kids healthy?  We’d love to hear!





Do As I Say, Not As I Do

4 08 2010

Mo, the silent one

I just spent a few days with two colleagues from PKIDs.  We have a lot in common: we’re moms of school-age children, we work for the same nonprofit, we work from home offices, and we’re all unusually aware of how efficiently unclean hands can spread germs.

So why, I have to ask, did we keep forgetting to clean our hands before noshing?  We’d get about a third of the way through bread or something else you pick up with your hands, and one of us would stop and look guiltily at the other two.  Out came the sanitizer as we agreed that it was good the kids weren’t there to see our fall from grace.

Rachael, who is more thoughtful than I, had several ideas as to why we were not as good as usual about keeping our hands clean:

  • Like most people, one of the biggest barriers to handwashing is that we simply forget in the rush of daily life
  • We were out of our routines and routine is an important step in keeping hands clean
  • We didn’t have a plan – when out of our routine, it’s important to have a plan
  • Hey, at least we put on the hand sanitizer as soon as we remembered

On the other hand, Mo has been mysteriously silent about the question of our forgetfulness.  She may have come down with something . . .

If, like us, you’re having too good a time to stop and find soap and water, at least tuck some hand sanitizer in your bag or pocket.  Maybe you’ll remember to use it!

Wish we had.





Kids Come to Work and Speak Up

22 04 2010

(We welcome two guest bloggers today: Paloma, age 10, writes about handwashing, and Paris, age 14, writes about Earth Day.)

 

Handwashing is important because if you don’t wash your hands, then you will probably get sick.

You can also spread your germs and make other people sick. For example, if you were to eat a slice of pie with a friend and you or your friend didn’t wash your hands, then you and your friend could be putting your germs into the other person’s mouth.

Everyone should wash their hands after eating a meal and before and after playing outside but if you don’t have soap and water around you it’s always good to keep hand sanitizer with you!=)

Just as the health of our bodies is important, so is the health of our Earth.

Today I want to talk to you about our Earth’s oceans and why it is important to keep them clean.  It is important to keep our oceans clean because they make up about 70% of our planet.

Throwing plastic into our oceans can harm the animals like seals that are curious and get tangled up in plastic and die from suffocation. Another good reason why we should properly throw away our trash is because sea turtles will eat the plastic sandwich bags and they will get caught in their throats or digestive system.

Plus, it just makes our oceans look dirty and we want a clean looking ocean not one that’s filled with tons of trash. So, please make sure your trash ends up in the trash cans or recycle.

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Antibacterial soap – yes or no?

10 09 2009

You gotta love handwashing.  Water, soap, rub, and rinse.  Too easy and gets rid of lots of germs.

The question seems to be: do we need to use antibacterial soap?

Natural soap contains fatty acids that allow oil and water to come together more easily, which in turn allows the water we’re using to carry away the germ-infested oil and grease on our hands.

In the 1990s, antibacterial soaps came on the market for home use.  It seems like using them would be a no-brainer, but experts can’t agree on this.

One concern is whether long-term and widespread use of antimicrobials is contributing to the creation of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

Environmental experts are voicing concern about the long-term effects of triclosan and other chemicals used in these antibacterial products, which are building up in our waste water system, and ultimately being dumped into the environment where they disturb the natural ecosystem by killing desirable and important microbes.

In addition to questions about the environmental impact, the actual effectiveness of these ingredients in household soaps is now in doubt.  Most experts agree that antibacterial soaps are unnecessary in a healthy home setting, and may actually do more harm than good.

A 2004 report in Annals of Internal Medicine found that in a 48-week randomized double-blind study, there was no statistical difference in illness symptoms between the families that used exclusively antibacterial products, and the families that used exclusively non-antibacterial cleaning products.

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Handwashing Poster/Video Contest

1 09 2009

Handwashing

Global Handwashing Day will be here in a few weeks. We’re sponsoring a poster and video contest! (cheers in the background)

Poster Submissions: Email your original artwork to pkids@pkids.org by 15 September. The winner will get a $200USD gift certificate.

Video Submissions: Upload your video to YouTube and follow the submission guidelines below by 15 September. Videos should be short in length, like that of a commercial or PSA. The winner will get a $500USD gift certificate.

Goals

We want the poster and video to remind people that handwashing is an important method of disease prevention (get rid of germs before they get you), and with luck, the memory of the poster/video will stick with them next time they start to prepare food, leave the bathroom, finish playing outside, or do whatever it is they do to get germs on their hands. We want to stop disease transmission so people of all ages stay healthy.

Whatever your vision is of soap and water and clean hands, that’s what we want to see. Be funny, be serious, be esoteric, but most of all, be creative and original!

For the complete rules and guidelines, visit our contest page.





It’s Global Handwashing Day!

15 10 2008

Here’s what Nancy L. Pontius reported on America.gov:

Littleton, Colorado — Every year, diarrhea and pneumonia kill more than 3.5 million children under age 5 worldwide. Many of them could have been saved by the simple act of washing hands.

Studies have shown that handwashing with soap can cut deaths from diarrhea by almost 50 percent and deaths from acute respiratory infections by 25 percent — saving more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. The challenge is to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract idea into an automatic behavior in homes, schools and communities worldwide.

To promote this life-saving habit, millions of children in 20 countries across five continents will participate in the first Global Handwashing Day on October 15. Supporters of the event will focus on mobilizing school children worldwide to wash their hands with soap to increase the practice of this important behavior.

Global Handwashing Day is supported by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW).  Established in 2001, partnership members include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program, UNICEF, Unilever, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

“Global Handwashing Day is designed to bring international and individual country attention to this critical public health intervention,” John Borrazzo, chief of the Maternal and Child Health Division, USAID Bureau for Global Health, told America.gov.

The event supports the 2008 World Water Week conference’s international focus for this year on sanitation. (See “2008 World Water Week Highlights Water-Related Challenges.”)

“Global Handwashing Day is important because diarrhea still unnecessarily kills 1.6 million children a year, and we know that effective handwashing with soap can prevent almost 50 percent of these diarrhea [illnesses],” Borrazzo said. “Recent research results also show that effective handwashing by birth attendants and mothers may reduce newborn deaths — which globally total 4 million a year — by as much as 40 percent.”

OBSERVANCES PLANNED AROUND THE WORLD

During the week of October 15th, from India to Egypt, Peru to China, Indonesia to Ethiopia, high-profile promotional and educational activities are planned for school children, teachers and parents — joined by government officials and celebrities — to raise awareness that handwashing with soap is a powerful public health intervention.

In Madagascar, President Marc Ravalomanana and the government of Madagascar worked with the USAID Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP), local soap companies, the media and others to plan an all-out national weeklong celebration of Global Handwashing Day. During the week of October 15, all of Madagascar’s 19,300 primary schools will participate in the activities, culminating with 3.5 million children all washing their hands at noon on Global Handwashing Day. A parade of schoolchildren through the capital also is planned for October 15.

In Pakistan, the country’s vision for Global Handwashing Day is to have 1 million school children across the country all wash their hands on October 15. This will be accomplished through many local groups and school programs working with members of the PPPHW, including USAID and multinational consumer products maker Procter & Gamble.

USAID’s Pakistan Safe Drinking Water and Hygiene Promotion Project (PSDW-HPP) plans to celebrate with 65 partner nongovernmental, community and government organizations. Planned activities include interactive theater performances, speeches from community leaders and creative classroom activities to complement the interactive hygiene curriculum currently used by PSDW-HPP in more than 20,000 schools. School activities will end with an oath to always wash hands with soap at critical times and to help others to do so.
Procter & Gamble intends to teach 75,000 Pakistani children via its Safeguard Schools Program on October 15.

INTERNATIONAL HYGIENE EDUCATION PROJECTS

For many years, U.S. public and private organizations have joined with other countries to help develop the vital habit of handwashing with soap.

“USAID has long recognized the importance of incorporating hygiene education and handwashing promotion as part of both maternal and child programs, and water supply and sanitation activities,” Borrazzo said. “We have worked for over a decade with many international partners to encourage handwashing, including promotion through the community, private sector, health facilities and schools.”

For example, USAID has been assisting with hygiene-behavior education through one component of USAID’s participation in the $59 million West Africa Water Initiative (WAWI) that began in 2002. WAWI’s 13 partner organizations — including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, World Vision, UNICEF, USAID, WaterAid, Winrock International and World Chlorine Council — work in Ghana, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Multiple USAID programs partner with international organizations in many countries to carry out relevant hygiene education and sanitation programs, including in Ethiopia, Nepal, Madagascar, Pakistan and Indonesia.

“School programs that teach the benefits of handwashing and effective handwashing techniques have been shown to increase handwashing behavior,” Jay Gooch, associate director of external relations for Procter & Gamble, told America.gov. “Young people are the most effective age group to reach to develop this habit,” he said.

In Pakistan, 7.5 million schoolchildren have participated in Procter & Gamble’s Safeguard Schools Program since 2003. In a country where more than 250,000 Pakistani children die from diarrhea annually, the practice of handwashing could save many lives.

In China, more than 24 million school children have participated in Procter & Gamble’s Safeguard Schools Program since 1999.

More information is available on the Web sites for Global Handwashing Day and the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap.








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