It is tough to tackle the spread of infection, but a few basic steps towards daily hygiene can put you on the right track.
During outbreaks of disease, only constant vigilance can help mitigate the spread of infection inside the home. It requires ceaseless infection control to ensure that seasonal illnesses do not enter one’s home. But sometimes, despite your best effort, bugs and viruses can enter the house and make your loved ones fall ill.
Children often pick up bugs and contagious diseases from other children. There is very little you can do to stop these occurrences – you cannot ask your child to stop playing with friends or getting dirty in the mud! But you can teach your children to stay away from other sick children, or to stay at home when they are ill to prevent infecting others.
Adults, too, can pick up infections from the environment and other people. There are several microbes that pass from one adult to another simply by shaking hands. Also, contact with people suffering from viral infections can cause the illness to spread.
While it is impossible to exert any control over what happens in the outside world, it is prudent to maintain a high level of hygiene and cleanliness on your path to infection control at home. Here are a few tips:
* If your child is ill with a communicable disease, keep him or her at home. Let your child rest well and have lots of fluids to flush out the toxins from the body.
* Put in place a series of aseptic controls to prevent the spread of infection inside the house. Your home should become a no-bacteria zone. Remove dust and grime from all exposed surfaces in your house, use disinfectants to mop the floors and sterilise your cutlery, kitchen and bathroom. This is an intensive operation. If you cannot do it yourself, enlist the help of a team of professional cleaners to do the job for you.
* Children who have caught an infection have a weakened immune system. While ensuring that they take their meds and drink plenty of water, keep their surroundings as hygienic as possible. Children suffering from chicken pox or the flu, for instance, must have their bedding changed every day. Cook their meals in separate, sterilized utensils and isolate their plates and cutlery after use. Use a clean wrap or disposable gown when entering the room of a sick child. Once the child recovers, disinfect the entire room to kill any residual germs.
* Washing your hands properly is key to staving off the spread of infection. Most people hurriedly run soap over their hands and wash it off. This does not clean the hands nor does it eliminate germs. Invest in a good germicidal liquid hand wash soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds to work up a rich lather. Make sure you clean under your nails and in between your fingers. Wash off with clean running water. It is important to wash your hands at least four times a day as part of infection control.
* Wash your clothes with a disinfectant for clothing. It kills microbes, dust mites and bacteria present on clothing. Always wash the clothes of an ill family member separately, making sure to soak them in disinfectant before transferring them to the washing machine. Dry them separately and store them in a hygienic place.
* Pests and bugs are major carriers of infection. Periodic pest control is a must for the home, apart from daily dusting and disinfecting to prevent the entry of bed bugs, dust mites and ants. Use the vacuum cleaner to get into floor corners, crevices in furniture and behind wardrobes and cabinets.
* In times of airborne diseases, buy sufficient quantities of surgical masks and gloves. Insist on every family member wearing the mask at all times. All of you must carry hand sanitizers and wipes in your bags when stepping out of the house. When handling medicines and other essentials, use a pair of latex gloves so as to keep these supplies out of the ambit of infection.