Stop Germs! Handwashing Is a Winner in the Fight Against Colds & Flu

January 29, 2013

The flu has been making headlines all winter, and recent reports show that it's still an epidemic. As coughs, colds and the flu make their rounds through our schools, we're promoting a time-honored way to stay healthy: handwashing. Here's a roundup of healthy handwashing tips.

Six steps to wash and dry hands

  1. Wet hands with clean warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces for 20 seconds, about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. 
  4. Make sure to wash under nails, watches and jewelry since millions of germs gather there.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Dry with a clean, single-use paper towel.

A fun way to help kids remember to wash their hands? Make it a club! 

The Scrub Club, an initiative of National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International, is a hand washing club that inspires and teaches kids to wash their hands to stop the spread of germs, while giving them the tools to teach their fellow students the techniques.

In the 2008-2009 school year, school nurse Luisa Ramirez, RN, from Lily Lake Grade School in Maple Park, IL created her own incentive program at her school using the ideas and steps from the Scrub Club… About 70 percent of the student population participated and the proper hand-washing techniques were taught in health class.

Students took home a Scrub Club Handout and on the back Ramirez created a form for students to share with the idea that each student would teach the handwashing steps to five other people. 

“They could be family or friends.  The family or friend signed the form, attesting they had received the training. They had a two week window to return their signed forms,” said Ramirez. “Kids had fun being the teacher at home. Parents were happy to see and learn from their children.”

When students returned their completed forms, they received a Scrub Club Sticker [pdf] to solidify their membership in the Scrub Club and were allowed to sign their names on the Scrub Club poster outside of the principal’s office. The class that returned the highest percentage of completed forms received a celebration.

Plus, now's the time of year to celebrate all the hard work and dedication of school nurses. All year long, school nurses advocate for healthier school environments, remind kids about healthy habits such as handwashing, and care for those affected by cold and flu season.

Check out some past blog posts about the amazing work of school nurses to promote handwashing and much more!