Helping Control Illness & Infection in Your Day Care
Early childhood programs must make sure they are doing everything they can to prevent and control the spread of illness and infection. Illness can be controlled by limiting the way pathogens (germs, microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) can be transmitted (passed from person to person). The benefits of infection control include, reducing:
- Child care illness
- Number of doctor visits
- Antibiotic use
- Absences from school
- Expenses incurred by parents of sick children
- Cost to parents as employees
- Cost of lost productivity at workplaces.
Here are some tips for keeping a clean, pathogen-free environment:
- Keep all surfaces clean
- Avoid long or artificial nails
- Follow hand-washing procedures
- Follow guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing toys
- Remove germ-trapping jewelry
- Wear disposable, non-porous gloves when handling blood, vomit, or other bodily fluids that may contain blood.
Studies have shown that unwashed hands are the main carriers of disease and illness. Diarrhea-related illness has been shown to decrease by 50% in centers that have implemented routine hand-washing. Children and adults should adhere to specific hand-washing procedures:
- Check to be sure a clean, disposable paper towel is available.
- Turn on warm water.
- Moisten hands with warm water, and apply liquid soap to hands.
- Rub hands together vigorously, continue for at least 10 seconds. Rub areas between fingers, around nail beds, under fingernails and jewelry, and back of hands.
- Rinse hands under warm, until free of soap and dirt. Leave water running while drying hands.
- Dry hands with clean, disposable, paper towel.
- Turn off tap with the paper towel.
- Throw away paper towel in lined trash container. Use hand lotion to prevent chapping, if desired.
For more information on proper hand-washing, toy sanitation, diapering, handling blood, and how to have a safe, hygienic environment for you and the children in your care, see Extension online's course "Health and Safety: The First Line of Defense" and other great child care courses for you and/or your employees.
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