It is that time of the year. Colds, coughs, runny noses and the dreaded flu are upon us all. Parents frequently ask what can be done to cut down on the spread of germs from child to child in school and at home.
Did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease? The CDC calls it a, “do-it-yourself vaccine.” Teaching children appropriate hand hygiene habits can result in the removal of germs, preventing the spread of germs, decrease of infections, absenteeism, and associated costs.
Preschools are required to teach, model and enforce proper handwashing techniques at all times of the year. Teaching from the earliest age with the goal of hand washing being as routine as getting dressed in the morning is a win for everyone.
Many experts agree that for hand hygiene promotion to be effective in changing behaviors and cutting down on the spread of illness, we need to create a family-centered approach. Handwashing steps utilized in schools can be reinforced at home. With parents and teachers on the same page and having consistent expectations, proper hand washing will become the norm.
Here are some tips on teaching when and how to wash hands:
When children are required to wash their hands in school:
· Upon entering the classroom from the outside, either home or playground
· Before eating snack or lunch
· Before any food preparation
· After using the toilet
· After blowing one’s nose or touching one’s nose
· After coughing or sneezing into one’s hands
· After touching garbage
It is equally important to know how to wash hands for optimum results, think about these 5 simple steps:
- Wet: Place hands under running water
- Lather: Apply soap to hands
- Scrub: Hands must be scrubbed for 20 seconds; rule of thumb is, count to 20 or sing or hum Happy Birthday twice
- Rinse: Hands must be rinsed under clean, running water
- Dry: Hands must be dried using a clean towel, or they can be air dried
Working on this at home and at school will most definitely cut down on the spread of illness and give children a healthy life long tool.