Frequent hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Hand washing with soap and water and using hand sanitizer (alcohol based hand rub or ABHR) are two effective methods to accomplish hand hygiene. Assist children with hand washing upon arrival at the child care centre.
*ABHR should only be used under supervision in child care centres. It should not be used when hands are visibly dirty/soiled or when hands are wet.
When to Wash Hands:
- Before and after handling, preparing and eating food, bottle feeding, using water tables, putting on and removing gloves, giving or applying medication or ointment to a child or self, changing diapers, any contact with body fluids (runny noses, spit, vomit, blood) or assisting with toileting.
- After using the toilet, playing outside, handling pets, pet cages, or other pet objects, cleaning up anything, removing gloves.
- Before going home.
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty.
After activities in a common wash basin, children should properly wash hands with soap and water at the hand washing sink, similar to hand hygiene performed after other play activities.
Why Should I Wash My Hands?
- Washing your hands helps to prevent the spread of infections.
- Washing your hands removes visible dirt and reduces the number of germs on your hands.
- This makes it less likely that germs will be spread from your hands to food, wounds and to other surfaces that you may touch.
How Can I Be Sure My Hands Are Washed Enough?
Usually plain soap and water will do the job. To wash your hands properly:
- Wet hands under warm running water.
- Scrub hands all over with soap for at least 15 seconds (count of 15). More time may be needed if hands are visibly soiled.
- Rinse under warm running water.
- Dry with a clean towel.
- Turn taps off with the towel.
If the water is not potable (fit to drink), for example untreated water or because of germs (bacteria, viruses or parasites), the contaminated water is not safe for hand washing.
What If There Is No Soap And Water Available?
- In the absence of soap and water, you can use waterless hand wash products such as hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled. If hands are dirty, use baby wipes or moist tissues (toilettes) to remove visible soil first.
What Is A Hand Sanitizer?
- Hand sanitizers or hand antiseptics are alcohol-based rubs, gels, rinses or wipes that are used to kill germs on hands.
- Hand sanitizers generally contain 60% to 90% alcohol.
How Safe Are Hand Sanitizers?
- Alcohol based hand rubs (ABHR) are safe when used according to the product’s directions.
- The alcohol contained on the applied sanitizer completely evaporates in about 15 seconds.
- Apply hand lotion after using the alcohol based hand rub if it does not contain a skin- softening ingredient such as aloe. This will balance the drying effect of alcohol on the skin.
How Do I Use A Hand Sanitizer?
- ABHR may be used to decontaminate hands when they are not visibly soiled.
- Use according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Spread product over all surfaces of hands, concentrating on finger tips between fingers, back of hands, and base of thumbs.
- Rub hands until product is dry (this allows time for the product to kill microorganisms on the skin).
- Do not rinse with water after applying alcohol-based hand rub.
- Alcohol is flammable; ensure the product is dry before coming in contact with open flame (i.e. lighter).