Keeping hands clean is essential to help break the chain of germ transmission, and in the battle between washing with soap and water vs. using hand sanitizer, soap and water wins hands down, no pun intended. The soap releases dirt from the skin; the rubbing creates friction to break the contact; the water rinses germs off the skin and down the drain.
When it comes to hand sanitizers, early learning professionals in Georgia should know that, in addition to not being as effective as good hand washing with soap, there are two more considerations that should be made. First, hand sanitizers are not an option, according to Rules and Regulations, except for the rare situations when running water is not available. The second reason is even more serious.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers pose a serious health risk to young children. In his recent CNN article, John Bonifield shares data from 2014 showing that more than 16,000 calls were made to poison control centers regarding children who had ingested hand sanitizers.
Why is this considered a serious health risk? These sanitizers may contain 45%-95% alcohol. Bonifeld compares that to common alcoholic drinks which might contain between 5% and 12% alcohol. At such high doses, young children who consume even a small dose of hand sanitizer are at risk for confusion, vomiting, drowsiness, brain trauma and death.
So, when it comes to maintaining healthy early learning environments, stick to the old fashioned (and totally effective) soap and water and leave the hand sanitizers alone and out of the reach of children.