Now that summer is here in full force, everyone wants to spend more time outside enjoying all the offerings of the season, including trips to the beach, park, water park, maybe even a night or two camping in the great outdoors. While nothing is better than relaxing outdoors with friends and family, don’t be tempted by all the leisure to skip proper hand-washing.

Public beaches and parks may not have well-stocked or clean bathrooms, and if they do, they always seem to be located far away from where you’ve set up your blanket and umbrella. According to the American Cleaning Institute, it’s still easy to keep your family’s hands clean, even on the longest of summer outings, as long as you’ve packed the right stuff. Just follow these simple tips to keep clean.

  •  Stock your bag with a “clean kit” containing a hand sanitizer, gel or a package of hand wipes, and if you’re going to the beach, a small container of baby powder to help get the sand off fingers and toes.
  •  Keep one kit in the car, and another in your carry-on bag if traveling by plane or train. (Just remember: If you are traveling by plane, you can only carry on containers of 3 ounces or less.)
  •  Use the sanitizer or wipes before eating or drinking, even if you’ve just taken a dip in the lake or ocean.
  •  If kids are going to have a snack after spending time in the car, hand them a wipe first.
  •  Always remember to clean your hands first with the sanitizer or wipes before taking food out of the cooler.
  •  There are a variety of wipes on the market, so be sure to read the label and use products as directed.

Not only is it important to use these products frequently, but it’s also key to use them correctly. The best way to use a hand sanitizer is to use one or two squirts of the product and then rub your hands together briskly, including the front and back, between fingers and around and under your nails until your hands are dry. Do this for yourself, as well as for children not old enough to clean their own hands.

If using wipes, wipe all areas of your hands until they are visibly clean, using as many wipes as necessary. Do this before eating, even if hands do not appear dirty. Dispose of used wipes in an appropriate trash container, and let your hands air-dry. Then feel free to unpack your picnic or pick up that burger and enjoy.  

If you’re lucky enough that your beach, park or favorite summer retreat has restrooms with running water and soap, be sure to wash hands frequently throughout the day — again, taking special care before eating. To ensure a thorough hand-washing, follow these simple steps:

  •  Wet hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
  •  Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub well. Don’t forget the backs, between the fingers and under nails. Again, help kids here — most seem to think that only the palms matter!
  •  Rub for at least 20 seconds — If you hum “Happy Birthday” twice, that should do it.
  •  Rinse under running water and dry using a clean towel, or air-dry.

MARSHA O. PARKER is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.

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