Nearly 22 million school days are lost every year due to the common cold alone. Did you know the single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others is to clean our hands? Start the habit early.
You can help your children avoid getting sick by making sure they wash their hands properly – and frequently. To help young children develop the habit consider doing the following: make it fun by singing while they wash. The “ABCs” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” work well, and are a good reminder that adequate hand washing needs to last 15-20 seconds. Ordinary soap works well at home, with waterless cleaners saved for times when you can’t be near soap and water.
Hand washing isn’t just kid stuff
80 percent of the infections we get are transmitted through the environment. Your work area also can be a culprit for bacteria. A study done by a microbiologist at the University of Arizona found the typical employee’s work station has hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than a public toilet seat, with telephones having the most germs. These bacteria can make you sick. And, it’s often no one’s job to clean these surfaces. Develop a plan to ensure your workspace is clean, and if nothing else, take responsibility for your personal health by regularly wiping down your work area and phone with disinfectant wipes.
Be a role model. We all know children learn from adults, not only when being taught but as they observe us each day. Make sure you are washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, before meals or when your hands are visibly dirty. Don’t forget the single most effective thing you can do to prevent infections is clean your hands. So do the right thing for yourself and your family. Please, clean your hands.
–Shelly Malin, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, director, Advanced Practice Nursing and Research