A message on my Instagram from Emma L! Her child has a vomiting bug – the first vomiting bug she’s ever had to deal with – and she recalled that I had an inventory of weird and unlikely things that are in fact invaluable when it comes to dealing with a vomiting bug in the under 10s. I recalled them for her – they were in fact on my Instagram Stories.
“I should do a post on The Spike!” I said.
“You should!” said Emma, who then took a call from the school saying that her other child was now down with the bug.
Here are my essentials for dealing with a vomiting bug.
1 Stainless steel bowls. Light, indestructible and very easy to clean, you need one bowl per child. I have gone through phases of keeping these in the kids rooms, under their beds.
2 Rubber gloves, in your size. Some people do not wear rubber gloves for washing up and so don’t have them hanging about. If this is you, get some.
3 Bicarbonate of soda. This is very good for sprinkling over puke-stains on fabric – it soaks up the smell and can limit the damage. Alas vomit is so toxic that it will start to errode fibres before you can get the lid off the tub. Still, it will help with the smell.
4 A plastic dough cutter or scraper. For the efficient scraping of any large pieces of matter off carpets, clothes or sheets.
5 A stack of old towels. Everyone has these, just know where they are.
6 Rehydration sachets, if your kids will consider them. Full-fat Coke if not.
Anti-bacterial hand gel will not kill norovirus (though not all vomiting bugs are noro). To be on the safe side, during the course of the illness keep in your kitchen a plastic tub filled to a shallow point with a weak bleach solution (just a capful in about 1 litre of water). Only bleach will kill noro. Dip your hands before and after cooking or going anywhere near any vomit. If there is a moment in-between your nursing duties and you can’t settle to anything else, wipe down all your doorhandles with the bleach.
Even if you don’t use bleach, your hands will be fucked. Vaseline hand cream is absolutely the best. Once everyone is better you can add a generous blob of hydrocortisone cream to normal handcream, rub in and leave (best to do this last thing at night). Only do this once, mind.
Keep in mind something really great or fun you are going to do when everyone is better and then do it. Focus on it. Looking after sick children is incredibly tough both mentally and physically. The two times after my children were both really ill, (Sam once screamed all night with earache – and that time Giles was away and we all got noro at the same time), I went straight to Topshop and got a new ear piercing. It felt great.
Just the word nirovirus send shivers down my spine… Having had it invade twice in my parenthood..taking everyone of the five of us down without a care… brilliant advise Esther. Good luck everyone! Also, a paramedic who took my mum into hospital while suffering from it said it hangs about on surfaces for three weeks. So please don’t think it’s ok to send your child to a party/school just because they havent vomited since yesterday. It is soooo contagious.
Emma L says
School policy is 24 hours after last vom. I can’t possibly keep them off for 3 weeks!
Emma L says
Esther thank you for this invaluable advice you provided yesterday. Rather a horse bolted moment, but all the above have been ordered and are ready for next time. I can’t have any reward yet, as they are off school recovering from hideous vomiting, so I’m still on nurse duty. Albeit low level now; telling Netflix that yes, incredibly we are still watching and providing glasses of coke at regular intervals. But tomorrow I’m thinking of a top ear piercing? Or it may not yet be over as I have a third child who has so far been symptom free, so we’re not out of the woods yet.
I feel so lucky that this is somewhat alien to me. My kids seem to have stomachs like hyenas. I know our time will come. The worst thing is when you’re at a kids party or something and someone announces their child was sick in recent hours “but seems fine now!” and everyone does the same tight smile and mutters sympathetically but really they are thinking “BEGONE!!!!!” and start to move away and fumble for their plague amulets.
Yes to cleaning door handles, taps, loo flushes and light switches. And the tv remote and all screens. All vectors for germs.
No children but I did have a dog with a very delicate stomach, and had my own ‘honk kit’, which was a bucket with the following permanently in it: poop bags (for bagging vom not poop!), roll of kitchen roll, palette knife, bottle of tap water, Vanish spray, old flannel, scrubbing brush. I could just grab the whole lot at the first sound of wretching – usually 3am – and get most of it under control immediately.
My m-in-law was HORRIFIED that the palette knife I asked for one Christmas was for dog sick … but it is brilliant. I had not thought of a dough scraper.
Sophie this is so funny
Sophie I also have a dog that pukes or, even worse, craps himself in the night on the kitchen floor when poorly. Luckily the under-floor heating sets it like concrete so its not SO bad to clean up but even so..I have the same kit as you but I’ve added a large box of what Nigella calls CSI gloves (very thin latex gloves) which you can wack on, deal with it all and then chuck away with the kitchen roll all tied up in a poo bag. Got this down to fine art and can do it in the time it takes for a kettle to boil. For some reason none of my three children are pukers – apart from the one time Mr W came home form a work trip to find a rug in the front garden that I had chucked out of the window it was so covered at 3am and had been planning to put in a skip…
YES, to ALL of the above: if you’ve been caught out even just once with middle-of-the-night spewing, you make sure you’re prepped for next time. Toddler age was the worst: zero warning meant taking the blessed cot apart in order to clean every crevice.. gross.
My own personal anti-bac HERO is Hibiscrub (buy at chemists/amazon etc) It’s hospital grade, but gentle, with next to no scent and is fab for nuking the puke germs. Cannot live without it, wish I’d known about years ago!
Thanks Caith – will Hibiscrub neutralise noro? or is that a very niche question
I sometimes think I’m a defacto Hibiscrub ambassador as, for me at least, it is the mother of all anti-bac/sanitiser and it’s not harsh on skin at all. It’s the sort of thing I carry in a small bottle at all times and press into other people’s hands at the merest mention of ‘..possible infection’. I *believe* it’s my final defence against catching Noro off the kids, but I’m no expert.
Also, on a side note, I admit to being a bit haunted by the mother of twins I knew once who dropped dead with sepsis about a week after complaining of a scratch on her hand that she got whilst cutting back her rose bushes. Boom! Just like that she was gone and her boys were motherless. Personally aiming to avoid any such devastation led me to embrace Hibiscrub x x
WHAT!!! fuck Caith are you trying to give me nightmares? *destroys all roses in garden*
The Irish Health Service says it’s the right handscrub for noro (and other “small round viruses”): but the US National Institute of Health says that alcohol hand sanitizer is actually the best between-handwashing adjunct, you just have to totally coat your hands in the stuff until you’ve wrecked your cuticles – they’re pretty worried people will put off handwashes too long if they use it, though. Everyone agrees that true bleach is the best for surfaces though.
(The UK NHS is most concerned that people wash their hands at all, using soap and water, please and thank you very much.)
what a brilliant run-down of multi-cultural hand-washing rules and regs. thank you xxx
I was given an industrial sized bottle of hibiscrub when I had to go in for an op, and was told to scrub myself down with it the morning of. Also use it to clean any child/pet/horse when they have cuts/infections, its a wonder product!
Oh yes – We got some hibiscrub from the vet when our guinea pig had ringworm and she said it was a good general disinfectant. I used it diluted after a visiting child was sick in our bathroom (they probably heard my rubber gloves pinging on as they got in the car).
Katy W says
My tip (probably relevant for younger children as older ones better able to aim into a bowl) is to have two layers of sheets – so waterproof sheet, normal one, waterproof sheet, normal one. Then you can just whip off the top layers and still have a bed made underneath. I mean the amounts of washing involved are still hellish but if you don’t have to find sheets in the middle of the night then that is a very small victory.
My eldest ended up hospitalised with cryptosporidium when she was 3 – caught from feeding lambs at a farm, apparently it’s common in spring. It has quite a long incubation and it’s the kind of thing they close swimming pools for because even chlorine doesn’t kill it… so make sure children (especially thumb suckers) wash their hands really thoroughly when you go to those farm places, even though the water is always freezing and the soap is always horrible, it’s much better than the alternative. It was HORRENDOUS but the hospital doctors told us that 50:50 apple juice and water is as good as dioralyte for little children (and less gross) although apple juice not great if they also have the runs. We also had to do a fluids challenge which was 5ml of liquid every 5 minutes (used a calpol syringe) and if they can manage an hour’s worth of that then they should be able to start sipping water etc (this was after 24 hours of her not being able to keep anything down at all, even water). Luckily we didn’t catch it at the time although we were both unwell about 10 days later which could have been the same thing.
So far, touch wood, we’ve not all had noro at the same time but you know, Christmas is coming up so this may be our year…
Another tip: you can buy emesis bags from the chemist. They have a large round rigid plastic opening and a long bag at the other end. I keep a couple in the car as my boy is very occasionally car sick.
Rosie I LOVE a bit of hospital-grade gear!! I will look into this x