Prevent Illness in Schools with Proper Hand Hygiene

Since it’s early in the school year, it’s the perfect time to remind teachers, parents and students about preventing illness.
Prevent Illness in Schools with Proper Hand Hygiene - Articles


Jar-dailyshoot: A person's hands can tell a story. Take a picture of someone's hands today. (@houkazan) #ds294 on BY 2.0

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 164 million school days are lost due to illness. Bacteria, including Salmonella and certain strains of E. coli can live for up to two hours on cafeteria tables, doorknobs, computer keyboards, etc. The good news is that frequent and proper hand cleaning prevents the spread of bacteria among the entire school community!

It's important to teach kids the importance of washing their hands at an early age, so it will become a habit throughout their life.

Remind them that hands should be washed:

  • Before, during, and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat.
  • After using a tissue, sneezing or coughing
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • When your hands are dirty
  • More frequently when someone in your home is sick

When washing hands, it is important to do it properly:

  • First wet your hands with hot water, as hot as you can comfortably stand, and apply liquid or clean bar soap. If you use bar soap, it is important to have a soap rack which allows the soap to drain.
  • Next rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces including your wrists and lower arms.
  • Continue lathering for a total of 20 seconds or about the length of singing the ABC song. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.
  • Rinse well and dry your hands using a disposable paper towel. Avoid using a common hand towel that is used by others as this will harbor bacteria and will actually spread germs from family member to family member. One additional advantage of using a paper towel is you can use it to turn off the faucet to avoid recontamination after washing.

If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizing gels to reduce bacteria on hands. However, these products should not be used as a substitute for good handwashing. Proper handwashing is still the most recommended way to eliminate bacteria from hands.