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    Did you ever wonder what you and your family could do to increase the chances of staying healthy during cold/flu months?  The Merrillville Community Health Services Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have come up with suggestions to help prevent and reduce the transmission of illness.  Please review the suggestions below.
    Good Handwashing:  Proper handwashing techniques can greatly reduce the transmission of illness.  Handwashing should last a minimum of 20 seconds.  This is approximately the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday", or to recite the alphabet.  Be creative with teaching techniques for children.  Remember, anything can be made fun given the appropriate tools.  Also, be sure to use warm water when washing, not hot.  Hot water breaks down and damages the skin barrier, which in turn allows germs to enter the body.  Adequate friction is also important.  Therefore, a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and warm water with adequate frictions can greatly reduce the transmission of illness.
    Good Respiratory Hygiene:  Be sure to cover a sneeze and/or cough with an elbow - not hands.  If available, use a tissue to cover and immediately dispose of properly.  Remember to wash hands afterwards, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    Remain Home When Ill:  Being a school nurse, I cannot express the importance of this topic.  Fever (100.0 degrees or higher, vomiting, diarrhea, or pink/red eye(s) with drainage are all symptoms that require one to remain home.  It is extremely important to remain home until "fever free" for 24 hours.  Being "fever free" means temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.  Cooperation with this policy is expected.  It is an essential part in our effort to reduce the transmission of illnesses to other students and staff members in the corporation.
    Get Vaccinated:  It is important to get vaccinated whenever available in the community.  Each year, a new flu shot is offered.  The flu shot is made up of 3 influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.  This changes from year to year, therefore it is important to receive one yearly.  This is the single best way to protect from getting the flu.
    Along with the above suggestions, remember to eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.
    In closing, please keep me informed of any immunizations that your child may receive.  Don't forget that the Lake County Health Department gives necessary vaccines free of charge (219-755-3658).  Also please contact me with change in medical diagnosis, medications, or with questions or concerns.
    Lisa A Knight, RN
    Homer Iddings Elementary School Nurse
Last Modified on August 28, 2012