As summer quickly winds down, the back to school season is upon us. Now is an important time to remind our children, as well as ourselves, how hand hygiene affects us all and how developing specific practices and habits can help prevent the spread of seasonal illnesses.
Schools and other child care facilities are often a breeding ground for germs, where illnesses can spread quickly, affecting the health of both children and adults. As kids spend their days at school learning to share, they're also sharing their germs with those of us at home, who in turn share those germs with our coworkers. It's a vicious cycle, but there are steps we can all take to protect each other from the spread of illness.
Healthcare providers can reinforce hand hygiene practices with patients, especially during back to school season. As students turn to primary care physicians for yearly physicals and other routine exams, this is a key time of year to remind students, and their parents, of the importance of proper hand-washing practices.
Healthcare providers should make hand hygiene a topic of conversation during patient exams by:
- Explaining to their patients how and why they clean their hands before and after each exam and the steps they take to protect themselves while working in a healthcare setting.
- Reminding patients that they can also help decrease the spread of germs by developing these habits.
- Allowing patients to ask questions about hand hygiene practices.
Schools can play an equally important role in hand hygiene education. Teachers can remind students to wash their hands at appropriate times throughout the day, such as, before lunch or snack time, after using the bathroom, after recess, etc. Educators should also follow and reinforce any school mandated hand-washing policy.
Elementary school teachers can educate their young students on when and how to properly wash hands, including: using hot water and soap to scrub the tops of the hands and palms, around each finger and nail and down towards the wrists for a full 30 seconds. Featuring hand hygiene posters and reminders in their classroom can help reiterate the importance of these routines on a regular basis. Inspiring these habits early in a child’s schooling can significantly improve their student experience and decrease sick days.
Parents can also play a part in teaching children how to properly wash hands along with reinforcing appropriate times to practice hand hygiene. One of the first steps to instilling these habits in children is for parents to practice proper hand hygiene themselves. By doing this, you also decrease your chances of contracting germs or spreading a shared illness to your fellow colleagues, family and friends. Teach your children to wash their hands:
- Before cooking
- Before eating
- After using the restroom
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
Through proper hand hygiene, children can greatly reduce their risk of catching a cold or a more serious illness. The average child in the U.S. endures between six and ten colds each year, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Parents often struggle with distinguishing whether their child has a case of the common cold (rhinovirus) or a case of influenza because these respiratory illnesses exhibit similar symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, young children are at a high risk of serious flu-related complications, especially those younger than two years old. These stats reinforce the need for young children to understand and practice proper hand hygiene throughout their day, every day.
Concordance Healthcare Solutions is dedicated to increasing hand hygiene awareness and support by working with key suppliers to aid healthcare professionals in their fight against germs. Contact us to learn more or browse our hand hygiene products today!