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Keep Germs at Bay: Wash the Right Way

Video with SMH Pediatric Nurse Educator Desiree Berry

Sneezing, coughing colds. Body-aching, feverish flu. Tormenting tummy bugs. These nasty germs —and others — are everywhere this time of year. The good news is that practicing proper hand hygiene can help keep you and your family healthy all season. 

Germs like to spread via our hands — when we cough, sneeze or touch our nose or mouth, and then touch doorknobs, faucets, TV remotes, cell phones or other hard surfaces. Washing your hands frequently is a good first step toward getting rid of germs, but it only works when you clean them the right way. If you care for young children, it’s important to teach them how to really wash away those yucky germs. 

How to Wash 

Here is an easy, step-by-step guide for teaching good hand hygiene to children and for ensuring your own handwashing is effective.

  1. Get your hands wet. 
  2. Add some soap
  3. Rub your hands together for about 20 seconds. Instead of counting to 20 while scrubbing your hands, try singing the song “Happy Birthday to You” twice. (This is also a handy way of teaching kids who cannot yet count to 20.) Don’t just scrub the palms of your hands. Be sure to also scrub your fingertips, in between your fingers and the backs of your hands as well. Wash all the way up to your wrists. 
  4. Rinse your hands until all of the bubbles are gone. 
  5. Dry your hands with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn the sink faucet off, and then throw the paper towel away. 

When to Wash

Any time is a good time to wash your hands, but there are certain occasions where handwashing is a must, if you want to steer clear of germs and illness. These include:

  • After coughing or sneezing.
  • After blowing your nose. 
  • After using the restroom or changing a diaper.
  • Before eating.
  • Before preparing food.
  • After visiting a busy, public place like a playground, the grocery store, doctor’s office, a school/daycare or a pharmacy.

SMH Pediatric Nurse Educator Desiree Berry, RN, BSN, CPEN, has been a pediatric nurse for 10+ years with experience in pediatric emergency care. For the last four years, she has held leadership roles in the pediatric inpatient unit at Sarasota Memorial, where she works alongside the pediatric team of doctors, nurses and techs to advocate for our smallest patients and their families. (And her video guest star, 3-year-old Amara, is a veteran handwashing germ-slayer.)

Posted: Jan 22, 2019,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Key