Learn how you can practice and teach good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs
Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized because of influenza complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children’s immune systems are less mature than those of adults. They are often in close contact with each other at school, so they’re more susceptible to germs. With the winter cold and flu season upon us, one of the most effective actions people of all ages can take to avoid getting sick is to wash their hands.
There are five simple yet effective steps to handwashing – wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.
“Routine handwashing is one of the best ways you can avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others around you; especially those who are most vulnerable — the very young and old,” said Cara N. Steinkeler, MD, medical director for National Risk Management at Kaiser Permanente.
There are four key things you can do to protect yourself in preventing the spread of germs:
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Get the flu vaccine early.
- Try not to touch your nose, eyes, and mouth with your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
It may seem like a simple enough task, but it’s also important to take the time to make sure you are washing your hands the right way.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your
- hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Many people miss the backs of the fingers and around their nails whether washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer,” said Sue Barnes, Kaiser Permanente’s national leader for Infection Prevention and Control. “Whether at school, home or traveling, good hand hygiene is one of the most basic and best defenses to protect children, parents, friends, and others.”
Consider building a teachable moment into the school day with your child or student. And, if all else fails and you or your child do become sick with the flu, stay home from school, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and do not venture back out into the public until your fever is gone.