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Sep/Oct 2011
Keep in mind that
antibacterial soap is no more
effective at killing germs
than is regular soap. Using
antibacterial soap may even
lead to the development of
bacteria that are resistant to
the product’s antimicrobial
agents - making it harder
to kill these germs in the
How to use an alcohol-based hand
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers — which
don’t require water — are an excellent
alternative to soap and water. If you
choose to use a commercially prepared
hand sanitizer, make sure the product
contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Then
follow these simple steps:
Apply enough of the product to the
palm of your hand to wet your hands
Rub your hands together, covering all
surfaces, for up to 25 seconds or until
they’re dry.
If your hands are visibly dirty, however,
wash with soap and water. Antimicrobial
wipes or towelettes are another option,
although they’re not as effective as
alcohol-based sanitizers.
Kids need clean hands, too
Help your children stay healthy by
encouraging them to wash their hands
properly and frequently. Wash your hands
with your children to show them how
it’s done. To prevent rushing, suggest
washing their hands for as long as it
takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song
twice. You might place hand-washing
reminders at children’s eye level, such
as a chart by the bathroom sink for
children to mark every time they wash
their hands. If your children can’t reach
the sink on their own, keep a stepstool
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are OK for
children and adolescents, too, especially
when soap and water isn’t available.
Make sure the sanitizer completely dries
before your child touches anything. Store
the container safely away after use.
Hand washing is especially important
for children in child care settings. Young
children cared for in groups outside the
home are at greater risk of respiratory
and gastrointestinal diseases, which
can easily spread to family members
and other contacts. Be sure your child
care provider promotes frequent hand
washing or use of alcohol-based hand
sanitizers. Ask whether the children are
required to wash their hands several
times a day - not just before meals. Note,
too, whether diapering areas are cleaned
after each use and whether eating and
diapering areas are well separated.
A simple way to stay
Hand washing doesn’t take
much time or effort, but
it offers great rewards in
terms of preventing illness.
Adopting this simple habit
can play a major role in
protecting your health.