Hand washing is a very important message every parent must pass on to his/her child. Hand washing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. Hand washing should be practiced after the use of toilet, before and after food, after playing outdoors, after playing with pets, after sneezing and coughing, after touching garbage and after taking care of sick relatives.

About 1.5 million children die in developing countries due to diseases that are rooted in hygiene and sanitation.

The benefit of hand washing includes;

  • Prevents diarrhea; diarrhea is mostly caused by organisms that are introduced into the body via the mouth. Proper washing of the hands after exposure to dirt reduces their chances of having diarrhea. It also prevents cholera.
  • Prevents transmission of common cold; washing of hands after sneezing or coughing prevent the spread of the organism to other people. Washing of hands when you touch sick people also helps to prevent your child from having common cold.
  • It also prevents your child from having more severe diseases like hepatitis A, meningitis, bronchiolitis, flu and Ebola.
  • It prevents transmission of diseases from pets to the kids. There are over 100 different germs that can spread from pets to humans via contact.

It is important one makes the process of hand washing a very interesting and attractive process. Parents have to be role models and should also make it a routine to wash their hands.

Hand washing doesn’t have to be with antiseptic soap. One can wash with ordinary soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, a hand sanitizer which contains 60% alcohol can also be used.

The steps for proper hand washing include;

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

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