Family Health

Protect Yourself and Your Kids From COVID-19 the old-fashioned way

Mar 5, 2020

Hey there.

I know what you’re thinking: more alarmist nonsense about COVID-19, more colloquially known as “the coronavirus.”

Except, I’m not here to potentially scare you or your kids with the latest number of dead bodies. Because I know how triggering that is.

Because I’m just a person, like all of you, who has read or heard too much about an “abnormal” coronavirus. And I’ve gotten scared because I hear the word “deaths” (plural) and my mind starts to do a little dance. And that dance is not pretty. It also isn’t super helpful.

WATCH — Busting myths about the Coronavirus

You see, I recently had surgery and my immune system is compromised. I’m healing but it takes time.

The brochure I got specifically suggested I avoid sick people, but how do you do that when you live in a metropolitan city where public transit is just a necessary part of the day? Or when you’re a little one in Canada taking a school bus? Or when you’re a kid who just likes to touch things, because they are kids and they will touch things — a lot.

You probably know people who are in the same boat, or who are part of higher risk groups (very young, very old or sick). Maybe you have a little one with a disease that is already compromised who needs special attention.

Or maybe you’re just a healthy person who doesn’t want to get sick. It can be stressful to even talk about with your peers, let alone your kids. So...

What the hell do you do?

I can’t promise you a magic solution that will keep you from getting a cold, or COVID-19 (which is a coronavirus, not unlike the common cold).

What I can do is suggest doing what the World Health Organization (WHO) says, which is to wash your goddamn hands. And wash them properly, regularly. And I know this can be challenging with kids, but it’s a good defense to teach proper handwashing and take the time to make sure they’re actually doing it.

And here’s some fairly good news for a dry but necessary subject: people big and small don’t have to scrub their hands so hard their skin peels and cracks. (Phew.) 

Washing our hands is absolutely something we can all do to help mitigate the severity of this thing. So, here’s an illustrated guide from WHO that is visual and simple for some kids to understand and mimic.

It’s 12 steps, yes, but the act of washing your hands only really takes the duration of a song as short as Happy Birthday. If you don’t like singing Happy Birthday, here are some other fun suggestions. An Ottawa doctor even rewrote a popular nursery rhyme to help kids wash their hands, which is pretty handy.

Need more helpful visuals? CBC Kids News has you covered

And honestly, knowing how this whole thing works is actually really difficult to grasp as an adult, so it’s ultimately way more confusing to kids.

Thankfully, there are good people in the world who are trying to make it a little more simplistic.

Here’s Weiman Kow on how the virus spreads (it has been translated into many languages already and you can see more infographics here, like how to use hand sanitizer and how to wear a mask properly):

While the spread of COVID-19 happens person-to-person, the illustrated points above are some things to be mindful of. I think it’s also a — dare I say it — more fun way to learn about how to best protect ourselves.

Exposure happens through saliva from coughing and sneezing. It is very easy for these droplets to find their way to common surfaces, like railings, pens and pencils, elevator buttons, subway poles, phones, tablets and keyboards. Obviously when discussing this with your kids, cater the surfaces to the ones in your life, whether it’s toys, various screens and things at school or daycare.

As the comic shows, it can also find its way onto the mask you may choose to wear as a preventative measure. So, masks are really a better first line of defense for a person who is coughing and sneezing already.

So what can we learn from illustrations like this? Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands. Wear a mask if you need it. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze. Avoid crowds. Wash surfaces. Stay home if you’re sick, when and if possible. These are all common things we tend to forget during the frenzy, so it bears repeating.

I’m not a doctor, I just don’t want you or your kids to get sick if it can be avoided. And, more selfishly, I don’t want to get sick either.

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