B y teaching your small children to wash their hands regularly, you could be saving their lives. We know that kids don’t always listen when you tell them to wash their hands before eating; after using the bathroom, or when they come inside from playing.

But this is where responsible adults need to step up and repeat the message and train the little ones. Because hand washing, is by far the best way to prevent germs from spreading and to keep your kids from getting sick. Diarrhoea, for example, and respiratory infections are the two biggest causes of child death globally, but hand washing with soap could substantially reduce the risk of children contracting them.

Importance of Hand Washing
Teaching children the importance of hand washing will help stop the spread of germs that cause illnesses like colds, flu, diarrhoea, or vomiting.

Germs can be transmitted in many ways:
• touching dirty hands
• changing dirty nappies (diapers)
• through contaminated water and food
• through droplets released during a cough or a sneeze
• via contaminated surfaces
• through contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids

When kids come into contact with germs, they can unknowingly become infected simply by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. And once they’re infected they usually infect the whole family.

Dr Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine explained: “Every year, diarrhoea kills around 800000 children under five years old. Hand washing with soap could prevent perhaps a third of these deaths.”

Good Hand Washing – First Defence
Good hand washing is your first defence against germs and illness. Demonstrate the hand washing routine to your kids — or better yet, wash your hands together with them so they learn how important this good habit is:
• Wash your hands in warm water if you can, if not, cold will do as long as you use soap
• Wash well. Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails. And don’t forget the wrists
• Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

Make frequent hand washing a rule for everyone in your family, the small children included, especially:
• before eating and cooking
• after using the bathroom
• before and after visiting or taking care of any sick friends or family

Hand washing is a very good habit small children can learn that can keep them and their families healthy.

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