My husband and I have always been real sticklers for hand-washing: Nobody eats in our household till they've scrubbed up. With the threat of swine flu, I've ramped up the reminders, urging the kids as they leave for school to wash their hands every time they have a chance. Experts agree that keeping your hands clean -- and away from your face -- is a key defense against viruses.
But have you ever actually watched your kids wash their hands? Sure, some are careful and thorough. But others (in my experience, mostly those of the male variety) give their grubby paws a quick swish in the sink and call them clean. That technique, I'm afraid, offers little protection against influenza, swine or otherwise.
NSF International, a nonprofit organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that, according to its Web site, certifies products and writes standards for food, water and consumer goods, has developed a campaign to teach kids how to properly wash their hands. The Scrub Club site features silly superheroes (or "soaper heroes") and a song celebrating the six (who knew?) stages of the washing process. Cartoons and games teach kids about various infectious agents and steps that can vanquish them.
My kids are way too old for this stuff; it's designed for ages 3 to 8. But I'm going to show it to them, anyway. They might roll their eyes -- but perhaps they'll keep their hands under the faucet a few extra seconds next time. (The NSF recommends counting to 20 as you wash.)
The site also features downloadable materials, from stickers to lunch-tray liners, for schools.
Does the threat of swine flu have you pressing your kids to keep their hands clean? What other steps are you taking to help them stay healthy?
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