At the end of 2019, a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) suddenly began popping up across the world. The virus shows up as flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, along with a variety of less common symptoms. The virus spreads easily, currently has no vaccine, and has proven to be more serious in some people and less serious in others.
Experts are still learning about COVID-19, but the disease has shown evidence of being much milder in babies and children than in adults, older people, or anyone with certain pre-existing health conditions. There are fewer cases reported in children and most caught the infection from a family member or someone they live with.
While this may provide some assurance for worried parents, it’s still necessary to do everything possible to protect children from getting sick. Children are exposed to COVID-19 when the virus lands in the nose, mouth, eyes, or lungs. This is usually the result of an infected person sneezing or coughing and releasing respiratory droplets into the air, but coming in physical contact with an infected droplet on a surface and then touching the nose, mouth, or eyes can also spread the virus.
How can you protect your children from this largely unknown and unpredictable virus?
Proactive measures are the best prevention. Avoid exposing children to people who are or might be sick with the virus. When possible, stay away from crowded areas and keep children at least 6 feet away from anyone outside of your immediate household or anyone who is showing symptoms of illness.
Teach your children regular and proper hand washing with soap and warm water, for at least twenty seconds. Kids can time their hand washing process by singing their ABCs and should always wash their hands before eating and after sneezing, coughing, using the bathroom, and coming in from the outdoors. Maybe even consider offering a small reward for good hand washing practices, such as a high five or a sticker, and make sure to set an example by washing your hands frequently as well. Hand sanitizer is the next best thing when soap and water aren’t accessible, but make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.
Teach kids to cough and sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands and to avoid touching their face as much as possible. Take the time to wipe down surfaces, such as toys your child touches regularly and other commonly touched surfaces in your home. The majority of people with COVID-19, including children, recover with rest and fluids, but it is still extremely important to minimize risk by keeping kids away from the threat.