Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
The Importance of Washing Your Hands
If someone asked you what your first defense against getting sick and spreading illness was, what would you say? A survey showed that most parents feel that diet and exercise, regular check-ups and immunizations are the best way. However, the answer is that hand washing is the most effective way to keep germs from spreading.
Bacteria and viruses can be transmitted through contaminated water and food, droplets released during a cough or a sneeze, dirty hands, contaminated surfaces, and a sick person's body fluids. Germs can also lurk in many places that you wouldn’t suspect, such as toys, pens, pencils and crayons, cafeteria plates and trays, playground equipment, pet cages and food dishes, board games, spoons, knives and forks, remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, escalator/stair railings, cloth towels, toothbrushes, bathroom cups, doorknobs, sink handles, and light switches.
If you touch one of these sources, you can pick up germs and become infected by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And once infected, the whole family may come down with the same illness.
Good hand washing is your first line of defense against the spread of illnesses, yet only about one in three people wash their hands after using the restroom. You can prevent catching and spreading many diseases, including the common cold and more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea, by simply washing your hands.
It is important for you to teach your child to wash their hands by keeping your hands clean, as well. Teach your child by washing your hands with your child several times a day so he learns how important this good habit is. Here are some simple steps for scrubbing germs away:
Wash hands with warm water because it kills germs better than cold water. Make sure the water isn't too hot for little hands.
Use soap and rub hands together for about 20 seconds (enough time to sing the “Happy Birthday” song) to create lots of bubbles. Antibacterial soap isn't necessary -- any soap will do. Make sure to wash the "in-between" places - between the fingers and under the nails where germs hide and don't forget to wash wrists!
Rinse all of the soap off of your hands with warm, running water.
Dry hands with a paper towel or a clean towel.
Teach your child to wash their hands:
BEFORE setting the table
BEFORE emptying the dishwasher
AFTER using the restroom
AFTER changing a baby’s diaper
AFTER sneezing, coughing and/or blowing your nose
AFTER touching garbage
AFTER cleaning the house
AFTER touching your pet or other animals
AFTER touching blood
AFTER playing in the yard
AFTER shaking someone's hand
AFTER visiting someone who is sick
AFTER riding on the school bus
AFTER getting a scrape on your knee or a cut on your hands
AFTER cleaning up spills
BEFORE AND AFTER changing the litter box
BEFORE AND AFTER eating or cooking
BEFORE AND AFTER playing with younger brothers or sisters
Don't underestimate the power of hand washing! A few seconds spent at the sink with your child could very well save you trips to the doctor.