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8 Tips to help kids fight back-to-school germs

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Back-to-school tips for a healthy start to the school year

No mom wants her children to come down with an illness in those first crucial weeks of a new school year.

Thankfully, fighting back-to-school germs is really just a matter of practicing a few basic healthy habits. In case you need a refresher, here are the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) top pointers for parents and teachers to help control the spread of illness at school and home.

1. Start the year right

Get a jump on the school year by taking your child to the doctor for his or her annual physical. And while you're at it, request information about when you should return for an annual flu vaccine, since the CDC says that a flu shot is "the single best way to prevent the flu."

2. Hands off

Kids are always making interesting choices, like picking their noses or rubbing their eyes with grubby little hands. These habits are a huge no-no when it comes to disease prevention. Experts believe that disease is often spread by using dirty hands to rub or touch the eyes, nose and mouth. Teach your children to keep their hands away from their faces.

3. Wash hands frequently

Hands are basically as dirty as a toilet if they're not regularly washed. In fact, teaching your child to regularly wash his or her hands is one of the best ways to prevent her from getting sick. The CDC says that hand washing is only good if a person lathers soap for at least 20 seconds, so teach your kids to do the same when they're washing their hands at school.

4. Practice the basics

You can prevent the spread of germs by keeping immune function healthy. How, you ask? It's easy. Insist that your children sleep at least 8–10 hours per night, drink plenty of water and load up on fruits and veggies.

5. Disinfect germ hot spots

Even if you can't disinfect the hot spots at your child's school, you certainly have free reign over your home. Use an EPA-registered disinfecting product like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes or Clorox Regular-Bleach to disinfect nasty home surfaces like the remote control, doorknobs, light switches, faucets and plastic toys.

6. Keep the sickos home

If your kids get sick, we are genuinely sorry. But you can make another parent's life easier by keeping your sickos home to prevent the spread of illness through the school.

7. Coach the elbow cough

Yes, kids need to cover their coughs. But no, kids should not cover their coughs or sneezes with their hands (see tip No. 3). Teach your children to always cover their coughs to prevent the spread of droplet or airborne illness, but to do so with the crook of their elbow rather than their bare hand.

8. Know when sharing is a bad idea

Sharing is a great value to teach. Sharing food, however, is generally a bad idea in the school cafeteria. The potentially dirty hands of your child's peers can deposit germs on food, even if your kid's hands are clean. Moreover, a sandwich contaminated with a food-borne illness could give an entire table of children a bad case of diarrhea. Sharing, it turns out, is not always caring.

This post was brought to you by Clorox.

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