The need to plan and prepare our children for potentially overwhelming infectious outbreaks rather than trying to teach hygiene during outbreaks cannot be overstated. They say prevention is better than cure.
Why should we prepare children for pandemics?
A pandemic occurs when a new virus that is different from seasonal viruses emerges and spreads quickly between people, causing illness worldwide. Because it is a new virus, a vaccine may not be available right away. A pandemic could, therefore, overwhelm normal operations in schools, workplaces, and other community settings. It is therefore important that our children are well equipped with behavioral information that will give them a chance to survive the pandemic up until a vaccine is created or the pandemic passes
Preparing your children for a pandemic.
We can prepare our children and households in general for the next major pandemic by following the below three steps.
1. Practice and teach everyday preventive actions now. Teach and encourage children to practice healthy habits such as washing their hands, covering their mouths while coughing/ sneezing. Parents/ guardians should ensure children get enough rest, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet.
2. Plan to have extra supplies of important items on hand. For example, keep on hand extra supplies like soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, tissues, and disposable facemasks. If you or your household members have a chronic condition and regularly take prescription drugs, talk to your health care provider, pharmacist, and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home. These supplies can always be used for a different emergency and then restocked.
3. Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. If possible, also choose a bathroom for the sick person to use. Plan to clean these rooms daily.
Be ready for any type of emergency
Your preparedness efforts should not end with the pandemics. Review and update your plan to include action steps you and your household can take during other emergencies and natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados.
You play a key role in your children’s pandemic readiness. Safeguard their health and the health of your household members by making a pandemic plan now for you and your children.
Remember: Good health habits start at home.
Teach children to correctly practice good personal health habits at all times and not just during pandemics. Tell them about the importance of not sharing personal items, such as water bottles, lip gloss, or food.
At an individual level, we can teach children to adopt the below three habits as a basis for combating pandemics.
1. Staying home when you are sick,
2. Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
3. Washing your hands often with soap and water.
Regularly teaching children safe and healthy habits will ensure your children have an edge over the surprise factor brought about by pandemics.