August 3, 2009
Key to healthy schools: Hand washing
U.S. doctors say hand washing is the number one step students and teachers can take to prevent sickness.
Experts from Baltimore's LifeBridge Health, which operates Sinai and Northwest Hospitals, say each of the nation's 82 million students and teachers -- more than one-quarter of the population -- need to do their part to keep themselves and others healthy this coming school year.
Hand washing helps prevent illness because most germs are spread when people pick them up from infected surfaces and then touch their eyes, noses or mouths. However when hands are germ-free, bugs don't usually have a way to reach the face, advises Mary Wallace, LifeBridge's Northwest Hospital infection control manager.
Because hands can pick up germs from so many different types of surfaces, it is critical that students wash their hands after using the restroom, before and after eating, whenever they are soiled, and periodically throughout the day, Wallace says in a statement.
I often joke that the ways to not get sick are to wash your hands and don't eat at questionable restaurants, but there's a lot of truth to that advice, says Dr. John Cmar of LifeBridge's Sinai Hospital.