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Prevent Kids from Tracking in Outdoor Allergens — Summer is a great time for families but can quickly become a nightmare for allergy sufferers. You want your kids to be active but you don’t want them tracking in pollen and wheezing in their bedrooms. Fortunately, it’s possible to have it both ways. Your kids can explore and you won’t have to spend all day cleaning.
3 Ways to Prevent Kids from Tracking in Outdoor Allergens
Here’s how you can keep allergens out of your home — without insisting that your kids play in a plastic bubble.
Create a No-Shoe Policy in Your Home
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that shoes contain an average of 421,000 units of bacteria, including E. coli, meningitis, and diarrheal disease. Whenever you kids run through the house with their shoes one, they’re spreading all those diseases and bacteria around the home. Asking your kids to take off their shoes, and taking your off as well, is especially important if you have toddlers that crawl around and put everything in their mouths.
Wearing shoes inside also means there’s more dirt and you have to clean more often. This increases the wear and tear on your home and increases the number of potentially irritating cleaning products you have to use. So just say no to shoes indoors.
Create a Changing Station in Your Home
Some older homes are equipped with mudrooms specifically so people can change out of their outdoor clothes and into indoor clothes. Kids don’t just get pollen and allergens on their feet when they play. They roll in the grass, wipe their hands on their pants, and crawl around to explore. These clothes then transfer dirt and allergens throughout your home.
You don’t have to have a mudroom to keep kids from tracking in dirt. Create a changing station by your door (and ideally close to the laundry) for your son or daughter to change out of their “outside clothes” and into their clean indoor clothes. All you need is a sealable container that they can deposit their pollen-covered outfits into. Building this habit now will really pay off on rainy days when your kids walk into the house soaking wet and muddy.
Keep Your Car Clean
Between day camps, play dates, and family excursions, kids are on the go during the warm summer months. This is where they typically get coated in dirt and pollen which can irritate allergies at home. By regularly cleaning the inside of your car, you can collect allergens and prevent them from getting tracked in your house.
If your car is dirty then you’re bringing pollen into your house anytime someone uses it. Even adults and clean kids can pick up dirt in the car and bring it inside.
Look for Indoor Activities During Peak Pollen Season
While sending your kids outside is a great way for them to burn energy, it could lead to health risks during the worst pollen months. Monitor pollen levels in your area and try to keep your kids inside when the counts are excessive. This time period typically lasts for a few weeks in the spring and periodically during the summer in between rains.
There are plenty of places you can take your keeps to get them active inside. Trampoline gyms are fun activities that get them moving while science museums offer interactive exhibits that teach them about science. You can also check local libraries and community organizations to see if they have upcoming events. You don’t have to keep your child inside all the time, just during the worst parts of pollen season.
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Insist on Regular Hand Washing
If your kids remove their shoes and outdoor clothes when they come inside, you’re greatly reducing the amount of dirt and pollen they bring in. The final step is to ask them to wash their hands with soap and warm water.
On average, your hand picks up 30 to 50 percent of organisms on any given surface. Studies around offices have found it doesn’t matter where bacteria starts; it spreads around the building like wildfire. Whatever your kids have touched outside, they can spread instead just by grabbing their toys or the refrigerator handle. Taking the simple step of asking them to wash their hands can prevent allergens from spreading all across your home.
These three steps can reduce the amount of dirt, germs, and allergens in your home. The process is most effective when everyone in the family participates, so try to set a good example by taking off your shoes and washing your hands, and your children will follow suit.