7 Ways to Promote a Healthy Environment During Flu Season
Influenza comes around every year making it important to keep child care areas clean and germ free. It’s important to maintain a clean and safe environment through a season of sneezing, coughing, and runny noses.
The Reaching Effect of Germs
Keeping a healthy environment in your kids club is obviously important for children and their families, but there are other not so obvious benefits to minimizing germs too, including:
• Sick children make sick workers – Want to minimize sick calls from staff? Hold the line and say no to those parents who want to check-in their sniffling toddler.
• Protect a great member experience – You’ve worked hard to create it. Protect that experience by making sure children don’t go home carrying an illness. Parents will remember the day their perfectly fine children were at the gym and three days later they had sick kids at home. And, if their kids got sick, they’ll likely tell a friend or two.
• Minimize distractions and maximize fun – Let’s face it, sick children need tissues, extra hand washings, and generally extra attention simply because they don’t feel well. All these factors impact the dynamic of childcare and in turn will have a subtle influence on the ability of healthy children to enjoy their experience.
7 Ways to Keep the Child Areas Healthy
1. Follow healthy basic hygiene practices, and then some
Have children wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when coming into the childcare area. Encourage them to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can easily enter the body. Remind children to cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw it away and then wash their hands. Teach them that they can cough into their sleeve or elbow if a tissue is not available.
2. Keep surfaces clean
Have plenty of disinfectant wipes on hand to clean commonly shared surfaces regularly – even if it’s not visibly soiled. Staff should clean common points of contact like counters, tables, and toys often during the day, and don’t forget the small stuff like light switches, door knobs, phones, keyboards, and computer mice. These are all frequent virus hang outs. Some viruses, like influenza, can survive on objects such as books, desks, and doorknobs and can infect others for two to eight hours after settling on these surfaces.
3. Keep sick children at a distance
Designate the kids club as a “Well Child Area”. Communicate with your members to let them know they should not, and cannot, bring sick children into the facility. Have rules and stick by them.
4. Send sick children and staff home
Don’t be afraid to uphold your “well child” policy even when it’s tough. Sick children need to be sent home with their parents, and staff should go home or stay home if they could potentially get others sick.
5. Time is important but so is health
Some parents find it difficult to miss work, or their exercise class, or don’t want to miss a scheduled personal appointment. Their time is important to them and it can be tempting to show up, even when it means bringing along a sick child. Remind them their health, their child’s health, and the overall health of all members has to remain the priority.
6. Follow the latest health recommendations
Place your facility on the mailing or email list for your local health department and be proactive to inform yourself by finding and visiting informational websites.
7. Communicate with your members
Let parents know in a letter, and take home flyer, what steps you go through to ensure kids in the childcare area stay healthy. Ask for their help in keeping it a great place for kids by complying with a “well child” policy. Get them on board with the benefits and necessity of keeping the area healthy. Last, but not least, have a plan in place to effectively deal with and communicate with parents in the event of an incident or outbreak.
Nobody wants to get sick, or have their children get sick. Your members will understand the need for policies and precautions around the flu, and they’ll appreciate the fact your facility makes the health of everyone, including their children, a priority.