September 9, 2020

Kids: Here’s everything you need to know about washing your hands

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One of the best ways we can keep ourselves healthy? By washing our hands! Here’s how to do it correctly.

Let’s face it: We’re germ magnets! Whether at school, at play or at home, our exploring hands come into contact with all manner of contagions, like viruses and bacteria — contagions that could make us and our families sick.

The good news? Good handwashing can prevent respiratory infections, like the flu and the coronavirus. However, we need to make sure we’re doing it right — and we need to make sure that when soap and water aren’t an option, we’re using hand sanitizer safely. Here are some hints to make sure you stay safe and squeaky clean: 

  • Follow the five steps. It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4-5: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry. Make sure you lather the backs and fronts of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your fingernails. Also, make sure you’re scrubbing for 20 seconds at minimum — that’s about how long it takes you to sing the “ABCs” song.
  • Wash often!! Whether we’re at school, at home or at a friend’s, we need to wash our hands:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the restroom
    • after coughing or sneezing
    • after touching a pet
    • every time we enter the house.
  • Hand sanitizer belongs on your hands only. It might look or smell good, especially if it’s colored and scented, but it’s strong stuff. Keep it on your hands only, and let an adult know if you’ve accidentally gotten a taste of it.
  • Make sure your hand sanitizer is safe. Ask Mom and Dad to check the FDA’s running list of unsafe santizers to make sure the one your family is using isn’t on it, as some are made with a type of alcohol — called methanol* — that isn’t safe, even if it’s just used on our hands.
  • Even if you’ve used hand sanitizer, wash your hands as soon as you can. Hand sanitizer is a good option when we don’t have a sink nearby, but washing our hands following the five steps — remember: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry — is the best way to make sure we’re clean and safe!

*To parents: Due to the hand sanitizer shortage at the onset of the pandemic, a surge in production led to some unsafe practices — some producers did not distill alcohol properly, which created methanol. Methanol is toxic, even in small doses. Therefore, if your child has ingested any amount of hand sanitizer, please call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222. The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by medical professionals who’ll be able to address your concerns  and get you medical care as needed.

Staying Safe is Essential. So is Your Child’s Care.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is taking a careful approach to help keep your child and family safe, along with team members. Safety actions follow recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted experts.

COVID-19 is not the only threat to your child’s health and well-being. Many illnesses and conditions can cause serious problems. Good preventative care and early treatment can save lives. Please don’t delay important healthcare for your child — including all-important immunizations.

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