October 20, 2010

Hand Washing Quickie

Most children are introduced to alcohol-based hand sanitizers at a very young age.  Public washrooms, medical clinics and even family farms are equipped with stations where they can easily pump out gel or foam to clean their hands.

Concerns have been raised by the media about children using hand sanitizers containing alcohol.  The worry is that the high concentration of alcohol (most contain more than 60% alcohol) could make it flammable and intoxicating.  If you are looking to avoid alcohol-based hand sanitizers, there are options. 

Soapopular and X3 make non-alcohol hand sanitizers.  They contain benzalkonium chloride, an antiseptic agent.  Clean Well makes a non-toxic sanitizer that contains antiseptic plant oils.

If you choose to allow the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for your children, look for brands made with ethyl alcohol (the same type found in alcoholic drinks).  Avoid isopropyl alcohol, as even in small doses it can be fatal.

With flu season around the corner, every brand of sanitizer will be flying off store shelves.  Hand sanitizers are very useful in preventing illness, but don't forget about the original hand sanitizer - soap and water.  Review proper hand washing practices with your children.  Only soap and water will remove blood, dirt and grime from their hands.  Have them sing their ABC's while scrubbing the tops and bottoms of their hands, in between their fingers and around their nail beds.

For more information on proper hand washing, refer to the following link: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/pubhealth/handwashing/handwashing_mn.html.

1. Fill a zip sandwich bag with a small stack of unscented baby wipes and place in your child's backpack.  Encourage them to use the wipes whenever their hands are dirty.
2. If you are looking to avoid soaps and chemicals from coming in contact with your child's hands, simply wet a clean facecloth, wring it out and place in a zip sandwich bag in place of baby wipes.

Stay healthy this season, practice proper hand washing and encourage your family to do the same!

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