The recent staph infection scare hits pretty close to home for me because this happened to our family. A few years ago, one of my cousin’s very healthy children was admitted to the hospital for a routine procedure, had his surgery on Thursday, and three days later he was dead from the staph infection he had picked up in the hospital. So I guess it’s understandable that the recent news stories about staph infections concern me. Health officials say the average person has up to ten million bacteria on each hand at any given time and advise hand washing as one of the best means of protecting against staph and other bacteria. They also say that people are not washing their hands as often or as well as they should.
Here’s some advice from the Mayo Clinic:
You can help your children avoid getting sick by insisting that they wash their hands properly and frequently. To get kids into the habit, teach by example. Wash your hands with your children and supervise their hand washing. 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. Make sure the sink is low enough for children to use, or that it has a stool underneath so that children can reach it. Tell your children to wash their hands for as long as it takes them to sing their ABCs, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or the “Happy Birthday” song. This works especially well with younger children, who may rush when washing their hands.
One of my hostas in bloom
The alcohol-based hand sanitizers do a good job of killing bacteria too but shouldn’t be used as an alternative to soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. Again, advice from the Mayo Clinic:
To use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
- Apply about 1/2 teaspoon of the product to the palm of your hand.
- Rub your hands together, covering all surfaces of your hands, until they’re dry.
I think I’ll stick with soap and water.