With kids out of school for the summer, a family trip to the beach for a day of sand, surf, and sunshine may be on the calendar. But could that fun beach day inadvertently make us sick? And are we practicing good hand hygiene to help prevent illness?

The Problem: Bacteria in Beach Sand

Scientists have found that wastewater bacteria in sand decays at a much slower rate than wastewater bacteria found in water. Yikes!

Simply rubbing sand off our hands or rinsing them in the waves isn’t enough…

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, practicing good hand hygiene is the single most important thing we can do to reduce the spread of bacteria and infectious illness.

With that in mind, how can we properly wash messy hands at the beach to keep our families safe?

How to Practice Good Hand Hygiene at the Beach

The most effective way to get rid of beach bacteria is a trip to a public restroom to wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. That’s the same amount of time it takes to say the alphabet slowly or hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

Washing hands is important before and after eating, after using the rest room and after changing diapers.

No restroom nearby? Apply hand sanitizer after rinsing hands in the ocean and use a paper napkin or food wrap as much as possible to act as a barrier between hands and yummy food.

Additionally, encourage your kids to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth while at the beach.

Make Hand Hygiene Fun for the Family

With these hand hygiene tips in mind, your family is ready to have some fun in the sun!

To make hand hygiene more inviting for little ones, the American Cleaning Institute has created a downloadable “Clean Your Hands” Word Search.

Be sure to also check out these five easy steps to teach your kids proper hand hygiene!

Don’t let beach bacteria ruin your family time! Practicing good hand hygiene is an easy and effective way to help prevent germs from spreading.