Many of us have fond memories of the rainy season from our childhood, holidays from school, splashing about in muddy puddles, or maybe simply getting wet in a pouring shower. Like you, your little one will love the rains, the fresh new leaves on the trees, the smell of the damp wet ground, and perhaps a little scared of the thunder and lightning which accompany the rainy season many a time. But will all the joyous moments, the rainy season also brings with it humid weather, flooded roads, mosquitoes, diseases, and lots more. With a little care and forethought you can let your child enjoy this beautiful season and also keep them safe from illnesses.
Before the rains pour – be ready
Ensure that your home is clean, germ-free and safe before the rainy season arrives. Be watchful of any seepage especially on the roof and walls and near electrical fittings, as it may cause electrocution. Carry out thorough checks in your home and get an electrician to fix all faulty wiring and switches. Have your plumber fix any leaking fixtures and get your drains cleaned and de-silted well before the rainy season begins. Check and repair cracks or fissures in the house.
This is the time when contagious diseases are on the rise. Your child is especially
vulnerable to infections because he is still developing his immune system.
Viral infections usually spread when the rains come. Common diseases associated with
the rainy season also include diarrheal diseases, malaria, dengue, leptospirosis, and respiratory illnesses. Children are especially vulnerable to weather changes and infections. Flooding, which commonly occurs during the rainy season, can contaminate water sources.
There are common misconceptions to avoid when it comes to keeping healthy.
Take note that the following will not avert a cold: wearing warm clothing, avoiding cold drafts, applying body warming oil, waiting for your wet hair to dry before going out. Instead stick to more reliable practice, such as regular hand washing with soap and water, sneezing or coughing onto a cloth or tissue that you dispose of as soon after use, keeping hands away from the eyes and mouth, avoiding crowded places, adequate hydration and a balanced diet.
Hygiene and cleanliness
Make sure your child wears covered shoes while walking outside and doesn’t stay barefoot even in your own garden or balcony because they can be breeding grounds for infections. Slugs, earthworms, and other insects often come into the house during the monsoon, so make sure he doesn’t try to pick up or play with any of them
Bathe him twice a day if possible — especially if he goes outside to play, or at least ensure he washes his hands and feet thoroughly with soap and water after he is back in the house. Wash his clothes in hot water with rinse them with water mixed with a few drops of disinfectant mixed in it. Clean his footwear, socks, umbrella, and raincoat and ensure they are dried immediately and free of all moisture, else they might become a breeding ground for germs and moulds.
Rainy days bring with them sweat and heat that is different from the hot summer days, but are nevertheless as uncomfortable. Avoid synthetic fabric and make him wear loose cotton clothes that will absorb the perspiration when he plays around allowing the skin to breathe easily. Keep his skin dry to avoid prickly heat. Pick up a few extra underclothes for him since clothes take a lot of time to dry in this weather; making him wear damp clothes or socks can lead to fungal infections.
Get them well-fitting closed rain shoes or rain boots which will keep his feet dry. Look for shoes made of good quality vinyl or rubber with skid proof soles so that they don’t slip and fall. Dry him off as soon as he comes home after getting wet in the rains, and change him into dry clothes while you wait for his hair to dry.
Food and drink
Contaminated food or water is the most common way many diseases spread in the monsoon. Make sure your child drinks only filtered or boiled water. Carry a bottle of water from home or rely on branded bottled water when you go out. Avoid giving him “fresh” fruit juices, drinks with ice, food and drinks from street vendors like “dirty ice cream”. If you eat outside, choose a restaurant which is clean and hygienic and opt for dishes which are boiled and served fresh.
Use filtered water for cooking, steaming rice, and for washing vegetables, fish, and meat. Clean leafy green vegetables several times over in filtered boiled water and steam them to get rid of any germs and bacteria. Soak green leafy vegetables as well as vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli in warm water containing 1 teaspoon of salt for about 10-15 minutes to get rid of insects. Don’t keep raw meat and fish products at room temperature for a long time, always refrigerate or freeze.
Monsoons can spoil food in the refrigerator easily, exposing it to bacteria. Thus ensure that you eat fresh food prepared in small quantities. Tap water may be contaminated by overflowing ground water that gets mixed with it during the monsoons; rinse your plates and dishes with water before use.
Take your household into account. If you have a cook, ensure she washes her hands before handling any food and check regularly if her nails are trimmed. Ensure that all cooked food is covered to keep away flies and other insects.
Home and surroundings
Protect your child from waterborne or mosquito-related diseases that are common during the rainy season by keeping your home and surroundings clean and germ-free.
Air your home frequently and keep windows open for maximum cross ventilation. Avoid collection of stagnant water in open vessels, flower pots or coolers. Dispose garbage hygienically in garbage bags that will not open and spill out. Keep the kitchen dustbin covered at all times so that wet garbage like vegetable peels and food waste are not left exposed.
If you have indoor plants, ensure that there is no water logging and change water in the flower vases everyday. Use insect repellents to get rid of mosquitoes and other insects; you may want to opt for herbal repellents like citronella-based oils or sprays. Use mosquito nets over your child’s bed or install wire screens on the windows. Dress him up in long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially when he goes outdoors to play.
Keep your home fresh and clean and use a good disinfectant to clean the floors and bathrooms. Get pest control for your home to ward off flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, termites, and other disease carrying insects. Keep a small mesh bag of cloves near your window or in your cupboard for a fresh natural scent.
Your child can get pretty bored sitting at home when its raining outside. Think up some interesting indoor games that can keep him occupied, such as hide and seek, drawing, and dancing to some fun music. Invite children from your neighborhood for a play date at your house so he can have some company. Help them make paper boats, put on their rain boots and raincoats and float the boats in the puddles outside your building. And after they run out of things to do indoors, make some hot chocolate milk and let them have a rainy day tea party.
The rainy season can be an enjoyable one. A few sensible precautions and a little extra care can make this season an extremely fun time of the year for your child and your family.