Webinar: Hand Hygiene Education for Students

Learn how to make hand hygiene education for students fun, easy, and effective!

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This webinar covers everything you need to know to become a handwashing superhero! But what exactly is a handwashing superhero? Here at Meritech we consider it to be someone who:

  • is knowledgeable on the nuances of hand hygiene
  • leads by example
  • encourages those around them to practice effective hygiene
  • educates their students and peers on proper handwashing practice

Handwashing superheroes can be a catalyst for effective hand hygiene education for both students and teachers.

Joe Johnson: Good morning. Thank you for Joining the Webinar "Become a Handwashing Superhero. We're going to give everyone a couple of minutes to join. So we'll get started shortly.

All right. Let's get started. I would like to introduce your presenter for today's webinar, hygiene expert, Patrick Burke.

Pat Burke: Thank you, Joe and thank you everybody for joining us. Like you said, my name is Patrick Burke and I am the sales manager for childcare and education at Meritech. My wife and I live in Denver, Colorado, and we have two beautiful children ages six and nine.

And I'm really excited to be doing this presentation today. As a parent of two children, I know the importance of hand-washing and I know how difficult it can be to get your children to wash your hands. As parents, not only are we protecting our children from the dangers that they face today, but also what they might face tomorrow effective hand-washing is something that, we can help them with today and that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

So again, excited to be doing this presentation. And, I'm ready to get started.

So a little bit about Meritech. We are headquartered in Golden, Colorado, and we were founded over 30 years ago. We believe that in order to create a healthier and safer world, we must redefine human hygiene. At Meritech, we aim to achieve this by overcoming variability in human behavior in the hygiene process with our fully automated technology and all of our hygiene stations are made here in the United States.

Here's a great video. That'll give you a good picture of what we do.


Pretty cool video, right?

So, like you saw on the video, our company exists for a few different reasons. First we know that harmful pathogens exist all around us causing illness, infection, and sometimes death, the common cold stomach flu, hand foot and mouth disease and influenza are just some of the examples common in education.

We also know that proper hand washing can prevent the majority of these illnesses. The CDC estimates that up to 80% of today's diseases could be prevented with a proper hand-wash and washing is critical and crucial to the prevention of the spread of disease. No matter if it's COVID, the flu, common cold or anything else.

So we know that hand washing is the best defense. But we also know that humans are prone to error and are not washing their hands correctly most of the time. A study conducted by USDA and found American fail to correctly wash their hands 97% of time with the most common mistake being not washing the hands long enough.

And another study at Michigan State University, they found that 33% of people didn't use soap and washing their hands while 10% didn't wash their hands at all.

So that's why we're here today. With everything we know about the importance of hand-washing, we need to continue discussing how to improve our handwashing behavior and fight back against infection spread. In these next sections, we will be going over everything that you need to know to be knowledgeable on hygiene yourself, so that you can encourage those around you, educate effectively and lead by example.

Our first step and becoming a hand-washing superhero is to know what it takes to achieve effective hygiene. hand hygiene education for students

You've probably seen a poster like this before. It shows all the proper hand washing steps from beginning to end. I'd like to go through each step to explain a little in detail.

Step one is application of water on the hands. You might not know this, but this is actually a very important first step because it's going to give something for the soap to stick to. It should only take a few seconds to make sure that you get your hands entirely wet. Also an interesting fact is that water temperature does not matter.

Efficacy is not reduced or increased based on the temperature of the water and is entirely a matter of comfort.

Step two is application of soap. The amount of soap depends on the size of the hands, but it must be enough so that when you are manually scrubbing it contacts all of the surfaces areas of the hands to include the front and back of the hands, around the fingers and thumbs and underneath the fingernails. If too little soap is used and not able to contact all the surface area of the hands, pathogens can still remain after the wash.

Steps three through eight show the proper technique to use to ensure we're hitting all the areas of the hands. This is where you're supposed to begin singing the happy birthday song, which will not only give you enough time to hit all the areas, but also ensure you are manually scrubbing the soap long enough for it to do its job.

Step nine is the rinse of the hands. This again is another important step because once we've manually bonded the soap with the pathogens, want to rinse them down the drain and improper or insufficient rinse can leave pathogens on the hands.

Finally, steps 10 and 11 art to dry the hands with a paper towel and turn off the water using the paper towel. After going through these steps, it's easy to see how it can present challenges in executing properly. So again, this is where Meritech has simplified that process into a single step, removing the human variable and providing the perfect hand wash every single time.

Here are a few pictures of our happy customers using our CleanTech® tech stations. 

So we talk about our best defense, the handwash, but who are we defending against? Who are villains? Pathogens are villains. A pathogen is a biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host. When that pathogen is causing disease or illness, it is said to be effecting the host or causing infection.

Two common types of pathogens are bacteria and viruses.

Bacteria and viruses spread a few different ways. They can spread by physical touch, when you come in direct contact with an infected person, they can also spread through the air you coughing or sneezing. And finally, they can spread through touching contaminated objects. Many pathogens can live several days or longer on hard surfaces.

Joe's going to launch a quick test to test your knowledge on some things that you may have heard regarding hand-washing and that, so give him a second here to launch up this, a few questions for you. You can participate by clicking on what you believe to be true, if any.

Give you a second here.

All right. So actually, none of the statements presented were true. And I see that we had some different answers. So we're going to go over some of these hand-washing myths. Myth number one is that soap kills germs. This is false. The fact is soap removes germs. Soap molecules have two ends, hydrophilic that attract water and the hydrophobic that repel water. When the soap is applied to wet hands, the hydrophilic ends of the soap molecule attached to the water. Then the hydrophobic ends attached to the oils, pathogens and other debris the hand. After the debris is bonded with the germs on your hand from manually scrubbing, you can simply rinse them down the drain.

Read more about how soap works

This works because the soap molecule can attach to the germs more strongly than the germs can hold on your skin. Soap behaves like a crowbar removing pathogens from the hand. So as we discussed in the earlier slide is important to wet the hands, apply soap across all parts of the hand and scrub long enough in order to fully remove the pathogens.

Myth number two, all pathogens are harmful to the body. This is false. The fact is that not all pathogens are harmful to the body. Up to a thousand different species of bacteria can live on our skin. Of these, a significant percentage are helpful resident flora. And one of their functions includes competing for nutrients with harmful transient bacteria to limit their growth. Handwashing targets removal of transient flora, which is typically responsible for causing infection.

Myth number three, hand sanitizers are an effective substitute for hand washing. This is false. The fact is sanitizers are not an effective substitute for hand-washing. The option to kill germs using hand sanitizers seems like the best option at first glance, but there are a few things that make hand washing with soap and water superior to alcohol based sanitizers.

For example, sanitizers don't work on every pathogen. There are many pathogens that sanitizers do not kill such as cryptosporidium and norovirus. Also sanitizers destroy both resident and transient flora. As we said earlier, the resident flora play a vital role in limiting the growth of the transient flora as well as maintain overall skin health.

Finally, sanitizers can cause dehydrated skin much quicker than hand-washing due to alcohol content. Also, it's important to note that after frequent sanitizer use a biofilm can build up on the hands, reducing the efficacy of the sanitizer. So it's always important to wash with soap and water.

Myth number four, frequent hand washing improves skin health. This is false. The fact is hand-washing does dry out the skin, impairing skin health and the cracks found in dry skin are breeding grounds for bacteria. Frequent handwashing and sanitizing removes natural oils and other healthy resident flora hand washing with soap and water is still better than hand sanitizer in this regard, due to the lack of alcohol being used in further drying out the skin. Is important to remember that skin health and skin hygiene can not be separated and frequent hydration is necessary. You can remember the four by four role, which is to moisturize at least four times a day, and every four hours.man washing hands

Finally, myth number five, air dryers are a good way to dry your hands. This is false. The fact is air dryers, create cross-contamination risk due to the circulation of germs in the air. Completely drying your hands with a paper towel directly after the wash is the most hygienic way of drying. Side note, the bacteria that is found in the bathroom is made up of majority of fecal bacteria. Do you really want to be drying that on your clean hands?

So now that we've covered what it takes to achieve effective hygiene. The next step on our path to becoming a hand-washing superhero is to encourage handwashing best practices.

We can use the acronym S.A.F.E.R. to remember the five steps in encouraging proper hand washing. The S stands for signage. Studies have shown that displaying signage as reminders can increase both the frequency and length of hand-washing. Children respond to colors, pictures, and characters. Signs are an inexpensive and effective way to remind students to wash your hands more often and how to do it properly included with this webinar is a hand-washing sign that you can post in your classroom.

Download our handwashing poster here

The A stands for an allocation of time. The number one reason for students not washing their hands is lack of time. We need to make sure that we set aside certain times in a day for students to wash their hands and allow extra time as needed. The F stands for fun. There's no reason we can't have fun. One hand washing examples include making hand-washing trackers that allow the students to record the number of times they wash their hands, and when a reward or creating handwashing buddy systems that tie in social interaction or hand washing awareness activities that allow for creativity and learning. There are literally hundreds of ways that you can make hand-washing fun and interactive.

The E stands for making it easy. A study in British Columbia in 2017 found that recycling behavior improved 141% when recycling bins were placed within five feet of a doorway. This suggests that the ease of use plays a large role in improving behavior. We wanna ensure that we have an appropriate number of hand-washing stations as well as good placement of those stations.

It's important also to consider the ease of access. For example, making sure that the smaller children that have a step stool if needed and can reach the soap paper towel. Finally, always ensure there are adequate supplies available.

And lastly, the R stands for reinforce. We do this by building cue routine and reward loops. A cue is something that triggers the routine section of the habit loop. With the reward coming in at the end. As a simple example, for every time a student washes their hands after recess, they're rewarded by being allowed to put a star next to their name on the hand-washing tracker.

So now that we've covered how to encourage others in better hand-washing behavior using our five step S.A.F.E.R. acronym, the next step is about educating effectively.

Studies show that most parents, students, and educators understand the importance of effective hand hygiene and yet most of us still do not wash properly. Awareness does not always translate into improved behavior. However, belief drives behavior because we are fighting an invisible threat it can be easy to forget that it's present day to day.

To drive behavior change we must not only make students aware of the importance of effective hygiene, but also show how easy it is to fail to wash your hands properly and the very real risk this poses to all around them.

One way to educate is by participating in events. Global Handwashing Day, coming up on October 15th is a great opportunity to put a focus on hand hygiene best practices, as well as the importance of hand hygiene.

To help you celebrate global hand-washing day or anytime you wish to devote to hygiene education we have developed a library of resources that you gain complete access to by participating in this webinar in your global hand-washing day kit, you will find videos, hand washing education posters and fun activities like word searches, crosswords, Madlibs and experiments. All these resources are designed to reinforce good hand washing practices and the importance of hand hygiene.

Our fourth and final step on our path to becoming a handwashing superhero is to lead by example. 

Students learn by example. Monkey see, monkey do. This applies to both the lessons you intend to teach and some that you don't even realize you were giving. From a scientific standpoint, this is caused by mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are cells in the central nervous system that are stimulated when someone observed someone else performing an activity and then again when they replicate that action. These little cells give teachers an extra tool to teach their students hygiene and hand washing best practices simply by leading by example.

And share what you know, whether it is a blog, newsletter, or Facebook page that you operate for parents and community, share this information that can help others. To give you a reason to share, Meritech will be doing a giveaway on global hand washing day on October 15th. Post online or send us an update of how you are reinforcing the hygiene and education in your classroom or school, and be entered to win lunch for your class on us.

So in summary, here's what we reviewed on how to become a hand-washing superhero.

Step one, be knowledgeable on hygiene. We need to have this strong foundation first before we can share with others.

Step two, encourage those around you. We can use the acronym S.A.F.E.R. to remember signage, allocate, fun, easy, and reinforce.

Step three, educate effectively. Remember that awareness isn't effective in itself, and it's easy to forget we're fighting an invisible enemy.

And step four, lead by example. Monkey see, monkey do. Mirror neurons can help you teach while you wash. Following these steps can help you become a hand-washing superhero.

We'll be following this up here with any questions that you guys might have. And, here's my contact information if you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to me.

Joe Johnson: Thanks Pat for that great presentation. We're going to address a couple of questions that have come in while you were talking.

So first one is, why is CleanTech® such a good fit for schools?

Pat Burke: I think CleanTech® is a great fit for schools, probably first off, just because, it helps out with time. There's a huge time savings in using the CleanTech systems. Our hand-washing is 12 seconds as opposed to the 30 to 40 seconds in a manual wash. So that'd be first and then the reliability of the hand-wash. Each and every handwash, you know, is going to be the same. Our job and what we try to do again with our technology is to eliminate that human variable. So each and every time that a child goes to wash their hands, it's going to be that same exact effective hand-wash so definitely time savings, but also reliability in the handwash. 

Joe Johnson: All right another one that we have is, how can students learn to wash their hands properly when you have a fully automated hand-wash in the classroom.

Pat Burke: Yeah, I mean, as much as we'd like to see CleanTech® everywhere, handling all hand-washing, that's not the case in the vast majority of situations, there's not going to be fully automated hand-washing stations.

hand hygiene education for studentsSo that's why we put on events like today's webinar because we do understand the importance of hand-washing and the education. That being said, classrooms are at a high risk in spreading germs and just due to the overall interactive nature of learning and being able to reduce that risk by providing the perfect handwash every time, knowing that our systems eliminate 99.9% of pathogens from students' hands that's, I guess, at the end of the day, we feel strongly about both in certain situations if that answers.

Joe Johnson: And then also, how could teachers make more time for hand hygiene throughout their day?

Pat Burke: Yeah, I mean, so I know that teachers do a lot of planning. I have teacher friends that talk about this. Never having enough time. So I think it's just something as much as you can, as a teacher, you're going to make sure it's a priority and make sure it's in there, yourself, and if there continues to be problems with it, it's something that you need to talk with your administration about. You know, as far as it being something that you're still having difficulties with and work together as a team, it's probably the best way to handle that.

Joe Johnson: Great. Thanks. That's all of the questions that have come through. If anyone has any additional questions, feel free to email Pat or give him a call with the information displayed on this last slide. Following up from this webinar, you'll receive a full recording as well as the presentation slides and as mentioned previously we'll be sending you a link to download all of the resources that we have made available in support of global hand-washing day and your efforts to teach your students about the importance of hand hygiene and hand washing best practices. Again, thank you so much for joining us and

Handwashing Day Kit

The Speaker: 

DSC_3786Patrick Burke is the Sales Manager for Early Childhood Education and K-12 Schools at Meritech, the leader in automated hygiene equipment. Prior to joining Meritech, he owned and managed one of the most successful and well-known CrossFit gyms in Denver, Colorado for over a decade. He is familiar with the challenges business owners and managers face when balancing the goals of the organization, the needs of clients and staff, and external environmental factors. He is passionate about helping others achieve excellence in their businesses which include providing the highest safety and health standards. Patrick is passionate about helping schools and early childhood education centers demonstrate their commitment to safety and create a healthier and safer space for children to learn and grow.


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