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Just how clean is your local playground?

And how can you protect your child?

Just how clean is your local playground

Publisher's comment:

Recently County Executive Marcus Molinaro mentioned that Dutchess County playgrounds are open for parents and their kids. It prompted Terrie Goldstein, our HVP publisher, to review past articles HVP published about playgrounds and children's health. Especially as more parks and playgrounds are opening with Covid-19 beginning to subside. The article was written 12 years ago, but some things don't change.

ABC's nationally syndicated morning show, "Good Morning America," reported recently that children may be picking up more than their fair share of viruses and bacteria at public playgrounds. After collecting 60 samples at such facilities around the country, producers learned that 59 contained germs and bacteria that could make children sick.

"This goes beyond hand hygiene," says Jean Fleming, R.N., M.P.M, C.I.C., InfectionPrevention and Education Manager, Professional Disposables, Inc. "Although it's more difficult to make your children aware of the need to wipe surfaces before touching them, 'Good Morning America's' exposé certainly shows us why parents everywhere should be concerned."

Bacteria and germs including salmonella, shigella, hepatitis A and a norovirus were found in some of the samples. Thirty tested positive for E.coli and all 59 contained fecalflora. Children, who are particularly at risk for infection, ingest the bacteria after putting their hands in their mouth.

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After learning of the test results, one municipality was moved to install surface disinfecting wipe stations. A spokesman for the City of Phoenix said it was looking into the feasibility for such dispensers on playgrounds throughout the city. In recent years, some states and local municipalities have required certain high-traffic locations to make surface sanitizing products available.

Surface disinfection is a common way to prevent transmit of certain types of bacteria and germs, from the common cold to more invasive germs such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant infection can be transmitted through human-to-human or surface-to-human contact, posing a serious threat to adults and children. It has already been reported inclusters of high school athletes around the country. If untreated, MRSA can ultimately result in death.

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"The survival of germs on equipment depends on the temperature, humidity, and of course Mother Nature's way of'cleaning," such as rain," says Fleming. "Germs like bacteria including as staph, viruses and those associated with colds, flu, GI illnesses can be found on these surfaces. Keep in mind that surfacesin the home and school setting may be just as dangerous."

Fleming offers a few simple rules for preventing infections after visiting a playground or school gym:

• Since it's not always possible to completely disinfect playground equipment, make certain children clean their hands immediately after playing using a product such as Sani-Hands for Kids Instant Sanitizing Hand Wipes.

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• Immediately treat and wrap all scrapes, burns and rashes so no open sores are exposed to playground equipment.

• Teach children it's important to follow the hand cleaning rule even when they're not with Mom and Dad. Children are at playgrounds throughout their school years. The same advice goes for older children using school gym equipment.