Tips to help your child avoid back-to-school illness - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Tips to help your child avoid back-to-school illness

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Back-to-school time can also be a time when kids get sick from exposure to germs. So make sure your kids know how to properly wash their hands as they head back to class. (Source: CNN) Back-to-school time can also be a time when kids get sick from exposure to germs. So make sure your kids know how to properly wash their hands as they head back to class. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - It's referred to informally among teachers and parents as the back-to-school plague - when the classroom at the start of a new school year is a hot zone for germs.

The Centers for Disease Control says that on average, elementary school students get eight to 12 colds or cases of the flu each year.

So teach your kids healthy habits as they head back to school.

First, know the hot zones. The germiest place at school isn't the bathroom, it's actually the water fountain. Teach kids to run the water first then drink or to bring their own water bottle.

Next, experts say antibacterial hand sanitizer is good but hand washing is best.

A study at the University of Georgia found that only 28 percent of children know how to wash their hands correctly. The rule of thumb is to use hot water, soap and wash long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Then it's about keeping their immune system up to give them a fighting chance against these common illnesses. Make sure they get enough sleep. School age kids need 10 to 11 hours a night. They also need to exercise at least 40 minutes a day and eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin C.

There are so many germs and so many little hands touching everything in sight. One expert called schools a "germ candy store," so here's hoping you can keep your kid healthy and out of the doctor’s office this school year.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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