Hand Hygiene & Preventing the Spread of Germs
As adults, washing our hands is something we do so regularly that we barely think about it. It’s part of our daily routine and depending on our profession and upbringing, some of us pay it more attention than others. We now know the huge importance of teaching our children these healthy habits from a very young age and early learning centres play a big part in offering the necessary guidance.
Our Cherry Bridge Station childcare centres in Australia adhere to the strict guidelines provided in the government publication, Staying Healthy in Childcare. There are separate and detailed instructions for both the educators and staff of the centres and for the young children in their care. Parents too can become involved by making sure their child washes their hands before and after each session at the centre.
These early learning centres also do a great job of making such routine tasks fun, with posters and even ‘How to’ books that help the youngsters to memorise procedures such as hand washing. The main focus of course, as with many of the healthy habits, is to break the chain of infection.
The government guide suggests that children wash their hands before the start of their day at the early learning centre and at the end, before going home. Also before eating or handling any food. The guide then advises that children should wash their hands after performing certain activities. These include: Eating or handling food, touching nose secretions, using the toilet, having their nappy changed—their hands will become contaminated while they are on the changing mat, coming in from outside play and touching animals.
There are five essential steps to good hand washing and using the correct methods should take around 30 seconds for both children and adults. The steps are as follows:
- Wet hands with fresh running water
- Apply soap to the hands (our childcare centres prefer to use liquid soap)
- Lather soap and rub hands thoroughly; include wrists, palms, between fingers, around thumbs and under nails. This should be done for at least 15 seconds. (It’s useful for the little ones to know that this is roughly how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’)
- Rinse thoroughly under running water
- Dry with a clean paper towel, and use one to turn off the faucet if you can.
Once a healthy habit becomes… well, a habit, then it is easy to maintain. And used alongside the other guides that are implemented in our centres we can be confident that we are using our best practices to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Remember that children learn by example and practising at home is paramount too!