NEWS FROM THE HEALTH ROOM
When children don't wash their hands, they leave themselves vulnerable to germs and bacteria that can cause colds, the flu and other diseases. Many children do not wash their hands thoroughly, but simply pass them under running water to satisfy adults. Teach children the proper hand washing steps and post a colorful chart over sinks to help them remember these steps. And, of course, model good hand washing practices with your own behavior.
When to Wash
Help children remember to wash their hands at certain times. Just like adults, children should always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, touching animals, coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose, playing in a sandbox or in the dirt, handling dirty toys or taking out the garbage. Children must also always wash their hands before eating. Make hand washing a regular part of mealtime in your family or classroom so that the task becomes second nature.
Before washing their hands, children should remove all bracelets and rings and set them aside. Rings can prevent children from cleaning thoroughly between their fingers, and bracelets can prevent children from washing far enough up their wrists. Before adding soap to their hands, children should wet their hands in running water.
Keep liquid or foam hand soap handy, rather than a bar of soap, which can accumulate germs. Instruct children to add a few drops of soap to their wet hands. Children should rub the soap around their hands to create a foamy lather, then rub their hands together for at least 20 seconds. Watch children to make sure they reach all parts of their hands, including the palms, backs of the hands, fingertips, wrists and between the fingers. Encourage children to sing a verse of a song or a full song that lasts at least 20 seconds, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." This method will help children mark the time and wash their hands more thoroughly.
Rinsing and Drying
Tell children to spend 10 seconds rinsing their hands in running water to remove the soap. Children should then dry their hands with a disposable paper towel before using the towel to turn off the water. One paper towel should suffice, rather than three or four. Remind children to keep the bathroom area neat by throwing used paper towels in the wastebasket.