Hand Washing: Why It Is So Important?
Having braved through several covid-19 waves, the one thing that is well-established is the need for proper hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the disease. Hand washing may seem like a small action, however it can impact your health in many significant ways. Hand washing for kids, is the number one method by which they can reduce the risk of catching infections. Cleaning your hands is important not just to prevent them from catching germs but also from spreading them. Diseases caused by not washing hands can of course range from Covid-19 to respiratory illness, gastrointestinal illness and more.
When to Wash Hands:
Children need to be encouraged to wash their hands before eating or touching their mouth, eyes or nose. Hands also need to be washed after:
- Using the washroom
- Playing with pets
- Being on playground equipment
- Touching anything in the public space
What is the Proper Way of Washing Hands?
Children need to be taught 4 steps to clean hands. These include:
- Getting their hands wet in clean water and putting soap on the hands
- Rubbing the soapy hands as they sing “Happy Birthday” twice. The answer to why wash hands for 20 seconds lies in the fact that you can ensure that you clean your palms, back of the hands, between the fingers and under your nails.
- Rinsing the hands under clean, running water
- Shaking the hands and drying them with a clean towel or a dryer.
If the child is small and cannot reach the sink, you could hold him or her up or use a safety step.
When to Use a Hand Sanitizer?
With visibly dirty or greasy hands, a hand sanitizer isn’t the best choice. Soap and water work best in removing dirt, grease and germs. However hand sanitizer is a good back up when you do not have access to soap and water. An alcohol based sanitizer works well. The child has to be taught to:
- Squirt a small blob of hand sanitizer
- Run his or her hands until they are dry.
While the importance of hand washing for kids is non- negotiable, what is important is to ensure that they follow it Some of the tips for success include:
- Being a role model yourself. Washing your hands before meals or after working will make sure that the children do the same.
- Patience is the greatest virtue. It will take time for the child to develop the habit of hand washing. In the meantime, do remember to be patient as also to give them timely reminders. Demonstrating the right way to wash hands without getting agitated if the child isn’t doing everything that you want just yet, is also key.
You can also make the hand washing activity fun by using some of the following tips:
- Bright soaps in different shapes– These can be really attractive for young children. You could also try to make soaps at home with different moulds. This will make hand washing a fun activity as opposed to seeming like a chore.
- Singing– Singing “Happy Birthday” or any other favourite songs while washing hands can also render it a fun activity.
- Using a sand timer– Asking the child to continue washing their hands till the sand accumulates at the bottom, can be yet another fun activity.
- Educating them about germs– Using colourful pens to draw germs & then tracing how these germs travel and cause diseases can be helpful too.
- Bubble bursting– Using the lather in the hands to create bubbles can also make the activity a lot of fun. In fact hand washing can become a much-needed bonding activity as well.
- Washing toys– Hand washing can be followed by washing some toys and cleaning them.
- Timers– Setting up timers can be a wonderful way to kick starting any of the above activities that you choose to do with the child.
To Sum Up
Frequent conversations about hand washing as well as hand hygiene can go a long way in establishing its importance in the child’s mind. Discussions around a news piece that you read about the spread of germs, for example, can be a great way to sensitize the child. Here’s to health & happiness!