Q. How do I protect my family from germs?


A good hand washing technique is the first line of defence against the spread of many illnesses. The common cold, predominantly caused by the human rhinoviruses, to more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhoea (norovirus).

To help minimise germs passed around your family and reduce the incidence of doctors visits, ensure frequent hand washing rules are in place.

Encourage your child to wash their hands after toileting, before eating/cooking, after touching animals and more frequently if they are unwell (coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose).

Make hand-washing fun! Wash your hands with your child; perhaps make a game of it, or make up a fun song!

“Wash, wash, wash our hands, rinsing off the germs, down they go, down they go, wash away the germs”.


1. Wash hands in warm water. Ensuring the water isn’t too hot for little hands.

2. Use soap and lather up for around 20 seconds (antibacterial soap isn’t necessary — any soap will do). Make sure your child gets right in between the fingers, under their nails and last but not least, don’t forget the wrists.

3. Rinse and pat dry.

Don’t underestimate the power of hand washing! 



Chest Rubs and Vapouriser Fluids

The Poisons Information Centre DOES NOT recommend the use of chest rubs, vapouriser or inhalant fluids, to treat coughs, colds, or for any other purpose.

Current recommendations suggest that chest rubs and vapouriser fluids do not have any proven benefit. Although they can make you feel as though your airways are clearing, this is due to the camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil. These ingredients can often make nasal passages more sensitive to cool air.

According to the Poisons Information Centre, chest rubs and vapouriser fluids DO NOT have a decongestant effect and they do not make it easier to breathe.

The camphor and eucalyptus oil in chest rubs and vapouriser fluids are poisonous and can make children very sick if they swallow them. Each year the Poisons Information Centre send a number of children to hospital, after they have swallowed chest rub or vapouriser fluid.

If you think your child has swallowed a chest rub or vapouriser fluid contact the Poisons Information Centre immediately. Be safe and do not have chest rubs or vapouriser fluid in the house. For further information about chest rubs and vapouriser fluids, or other poisons, ring the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Did you know?

  • Current recommendations suggest ‘steam’ therapy, including vapourisers to be of NO benefit.
  • Steam vapourisers are regarded as dangerous because of accidental burns, so are NOT advised.
  • 50% of burns seen in children are from scalds. 


A fever is when your baby or child’s temperature is higher than normal. In children, a temperature over 38 degrees indicates a fever.

A fever is usually a sign of an infection such as a virus or something caused by bacteria. A high fever does not necessarily mean your child has a serious illness, will not cause brain damage and once the infection has cleared, your child’s temperature will return to normal.

An infection caused by a virus does not require treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics do not cure viruses. If your child has a bacterial infection they will be treated with antibiotics.

You may want to take your child’s temperature, if they are unwell and showing any of these signs:

  • In pain.
  • Crying.
  • Irritable.
  • Vomiting or refusing to drink/eat.
  • More sleepy than usual.
  • Feel hot to touch.
  • Unwell.


  • The aim of fever management is to keep your child comfortable.
  • Dress your child in enough clothing so they are not shivering.
  • Encourage frequent sips of small amounts of clear fluids.
  • If breastfeeding, continue to do so, offer more feeds frequently.
  • Do not worry if your child refuses to eat, BUT continue to encourage fluids.
  • Watch for signs that their illness is getting worse.
  • Also see Dehydration

When to see your doctor?

  • Child complains of a stiff neck (infants may appear distressed when you pick them up).
  • Light sensitive / light hurting their eyes.
  • Child appears to be in pain.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Rash.
  • Decreased urine output / wet nappies.
  • Vomiting and refusing to drink / eat.
  • Not their usual self.

Fanning children and tepid sponging, is NOT recommended.

If your child has a temperature but is well and happy (‘Hot and Happy’) there is no need to give them medication such as paracetamol.  If your child has a fever and is miserable, give them paracetamol. Giving analgesia is only helpful in lowering your child’s fever for comfort. The analgesia may not make the fever go away but it will make the child feel better.

Key points to remember:

  • Fever is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s the bodies natural response in fighting infection and your child’s temperature will return to normal when the infection has cleared.
  • A high fever does not necessarily mean your child has a serious illness.
  • Don’t focus purely on the number on your thermometer, how does your child appear? Are they ‘hot and happy’? How do they look?
  • Fevers do not cause brain damage.

Babies under 3-months with a fever MUST be seen by a medical professional. You know your child better than anyone, so if you are unsure and concerned at anytime, seek medical attention.

Nurse On Call – 1300 60 60 24.

Pregnancy Birth & Baby – 1800 882 436.