Hand washing key for germs

NANAIMO – Island Health suggests hand washing the best way to avoid germs.

Parents know the return to school usually brings coughs, colds, sniffles and other illnesses. But have you thought about how germs are getting into your home?

Kids are commonly exposed to a big list of contagious germs: colds, respiratory viruses, strep throat, influenza, hand, foot, and mouth disease, and much more.

Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Dee Hoyano is a mom of school aged kids, and her best stay healthy advice to her kids is around hand washing.

“When you think about how much equipment is shared at school, it is no wonder that illness spreads quickly,” she said. “Kids should get in the habit of washing or disinfecting their hands not just around mealtimes and using the bathroom, but also at other transitions during the day.”

Key hand washing times should include:

After gym class or playing outdoors;

First thing after coming home from school/work/play outside;

Before and after eating;

After using the bathroom.

Recent studies have shown high levels of potentially harmful bacteria on items like reusable water bottles and lunch bags, backpacks, smartphones and other hand-held technology.  Germs lurk in many of the items that come home every day.

“Lunchbags and water bottles should be cleaned regularly,” says Hoyano. “It is a good idea to have a couple of them so you can switch them out to allow for a good cleaning.”

Hoyano says to help kids establish a new routine to deal with everything in their backpack as soon as they get home.

“Lunch containers can go right in the dishwasher or get washed in the sink, dirty gym clothes in the laundry, homework out, then hang the backpack where it is supposed to go, and wash hands before doing anything else.”