Why wash your hands?
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to stay healthy and avoid spreading germs. Everything we touch has germs on it, and although many of the germs we encounter on a daily basis are harmless to our health, it is important to take precautions to minimize the risk of getting sick or catching an infection — this is why we wash our hands!
According to the Center for Disease Control, feces from people and animals carry salmonella, E. coli and norovirus that cause diarrhea, and it can also spread respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease. These germs can get onto hands after people use the bathroom or change a diaper, and in less obvious ways such as after handling raw meats or other unprepared foods. Germs enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, which are frequently touched areas and most important to keep clean.
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Knowing how mischievous kids can be, it is likely that their hands explore contaminated surface areas and unsanitary objects that hold harmful bacteria throughout the day. We can admit that washing your hands is a tedious and boring ritual, but nevertheless, very important for our health, and certainly not something you want to neglect educating your children about. Additionally, when teaching your kids about the dangers of germs and the benefits of keeping clean hands, the biggest challenge you will face is how to make this task something fun and not dreaded.
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HOW TO MAKE HAND-WASHING FUN
Sing a song that lasts 20 seconds. According to the Center for Disease Control, this is the amount of time that is recommended to properly wash your hands. Try "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Happy Birthday." To create your own handwashing song, click here.
Keep track of their progress and reward them with a treat. If you have multiple kids, make it a friendly competition!
Decorate a stool for your kids to use the bathroom sink. Encourage them to help with the decorations (i.e, pick out colors, stickers and designs).
Post a reminder chart in the bathroom. Click here to download a free hand washing poster from Carex®!
Time them with a fun hourglass or kitchen timer.
Use fun soaps. Try some of these fun options!
- Squid Soap: This soap works by putting an ink stamp on the hand that pushes down the pump to dispense the soap. The goal is to wash off the stamp until it's gone. Cheap DIY version: Get a non-toxic, non-permanent marker and draw something on the palm of your kid's hands and tell them to wash it until it's gone. Check it out here!
- "Celebrity" Bottles: Go to your local grocery store to see the fun variety of soap dispenser bottles. Bonus points for bottles that have their favorite TV or movie character, superhero, villain, etc. Click here to see an example!
- Inspector Hector Dirt Detector: This color-changing soap contains beads that burst when being used and change color after 20-25 seconds. The goal is to continue washing until the color is changed so the soap can be rinsed off. Check it out here!
- Healthy Hands: This soap dispenser accessory plays music and lights up for 20 seconds while using it. Click here to read more!
- SoapTime: This product uses a multimedia approach to get kids to wash their hands. It plays music, lights up and recites facts about health and hygiene for 20 seconds. Check it out!
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