Back to School Checklist: A Hand Washing Lesson

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls hand washing a “do-it-yourself” vaccine. By scrubbing well and often, you can prevent the spread of certain illnesses, including the stomach bug and flu. This is especially important when the kids go back to school, a gymnasium of germs in the fall.

When kids go to school each day, they have any number of things to remember: bringing home their lunchbox, taking care of school supplies, making new friends — and hygiene is another thing to add to the list. It’s as simple as Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, and Dry, five easy steps the experts recommend, but it can keep you well and save you money in the long run.

Keeping kids healthy

Kids should wash their hands before eating anytime, and especially at school. The cafeteria is full of kids, some of whom have played outside, so tell your children to make sure they wash up before lunch or snack times.

You also want to make sure they are washing after going to the restroom, coughing or sneezing, and playing outside. When kids are at home in the evening or out of school for the summer, you can help them remember to clean up. But when they go to school, there may not always be a teacher nearby to provide hygiene reminders. Make sure your kids consider hand washing a part of their normal routine. If you need help getting kids interested in hygiene, the Hygiene Council provides some materials that may help.

The back to school blues 

If the average kid has 6 to 10 colds each year, how many germs do you think are circulating a school at any given time? Millions. The truth is, school is a leading breeding ground for illness in a community. The classroom is where you and your neighbors trade whatever is going around at the time. Children provide great hosts for sickness because their immune systems are weaker. A germ that may not cause any harm in adults at the workplace can do damage in a school. 

Hand washing can prevent the spread of these germs. Preventing the spread of germs means fewer days off school and less money spent on health care. A few illnesses hand washing can prevent include:

  • Influenza
  • Streptococcus
  • Common cold
  • Stomach bug
  • Hepatitis A

These illnesses and others are often transmitted by small parts of fecal matter, saliva, mucus, or microorganisms. Hand washing can remove some of these dangers from circulation. 

Sometimes changes need to be made in your child’s classroom to prevent the spread of illness. If your kid comes home sick often or misses multiple days of school, it’s okay to ask the teacher if he or she talks to the children about washing hands on a regular basis. Maybe the teacher can encourage the children to wash up after recess or on the way to the cafeteria, making hygiene a class-wide commitment.

Use hand sanitizer in a pinch

Even though they can kill germs, hand sanitizers won't clean dirty hands! They're no substitute for a good soap-and-water wash. If you do use sanitizers, when at the store, you want to purchase products that are at least 60% alcohol.

To show kids how to use hand sanitizers, make sure they rub the alcohol-based solution all around their hands, between fingers, and at the fingernails until hands their hands are dry. You can also tell children that hand sanitizers are good when they need to clean up, but washing hands is better — especially after playing outside or using the restroom.

If the kids share a flu-ish high five… 

FastMed is open every day of the year, and as school gets back in session and seasonal illnesses begin to go around, you can lean on us. Visit your local FastMed the next time your kids share a dirty-handed high five with a classmate and come home with a stomach bug, cold, or worse — the flu. 

With our online check-in and quick, friendly service, FastMed can get your kids back on their feet before they miss too many assignments. 


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