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Even though we regularly wash our hands, we could still have germs and transmit or contract diseases. Let’s look at the proper procedure behind successful prevention.
Today, handwashing is essential to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, this preventive procedure which in recent days has been highlighted in the media as if it didn’t exist before, should not be something new in our society.
For more than a decade, I have had the opportunity to conduct assessments at schools and at childcare facilities to help them improve the quality of their education; including the health and safety of children under their care.
For this reason, I have observed thousands of children, teachers, and parents nationwide and internationally. However, in 98% of my observations, the procedure for handwashing was not properly followed. At some point in the process, a step was altered, and many times I have heard some members of the staff and some parents say that handwashing was a waste of time because children should create their own antibodies.
The instruments for rating handwashing at schools and childcare centers, as part of personal care routines, were supplanted by another instrument called Classroom Assessments and Score System (CLASS) based on theoretical and empirical elements to measure the effectiveness of relationships and interactions between students and teachers. In my personal and professional experience, I have used both instruments, and I consider that both contribute to maintaining the physical and mental health of our children.
Handwashing is part of universal precautions to prevent the spread of diseases. Although it seems simple, it requires conscious learning and discipline. Once learned correctly, it becomes a habit, such as brushing your teeth.
After observing more than 10,000 children, teachers, and parents, I want to share with you seven common mistakes during the handwashing procedure:
1. Applying soap to dry hands and then placing the hands under the water.
2. Rubbing your hands under the water.
3. Applying too small an amount of soap.
4. Not making enough foam-bubbles for at least 20 seconds. Not rubbing your hands in various directions; including the wrists, between the fingers or under the nails.
5. Using bar soap instead of liquid soap.
6. Turning the water off with your hands after washing them.
7. Sharing a cloth towel.
By making these mistakes, we can spread diseases such as the COVID-19 virus without realizing it. I have often heard parents and teachers tell children, “wash your hands,” but they don’t supervise them. Direct supervision and modeling are vital to teaching the proper handwashing routine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has valuable information on the proper procedure for washing your hands. There are videos and even posters on the subject. For additional information, visit the CDC website on handwashing or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Undoubtedly, this pandemic is teaching us many lessons and giving us an opportunity to reflect on some changes that need to be made to keep our health. The vulnerability of humanity has been attacked by an invisible enemy, which has silently and viciously spread throughout the world.
An imminent change must occur and a new mindset regarding hygiene practices needs to take place globally. With love and discipline, we can take this opportunity to practice personal care habits that will maintain the physical and mental health of our families even after the COVID-19 virus health emergency.
Remember, children learn by imitation. A habit is achieved by repetition and washing your hands properly should be a conscious choice. Let’s raise the level of collective consciousness because what happens to one of us affects us all.
In another article, I will share strategies for managing stress and adversity, where I combine the information from my classes at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with my professional experience.
Finally, dear moms out there, together we can support each other, keep our families healthy, and do our part to curb the spread of diseases. By practicing handwashing correctly and frequently, we consciously promote global health.
I hope you stay healthy at home while creating memorable moments.
With love and gratitude,