Maintaining hygiene in schools, nurseries, playgroups, and child minders with no water supply

Sunday, 2 January 2011 – Health Protection
 Maintaining hygiene in schools, nurseries, playgroups, and child minders with no water supply

The Public Health Agency has issued the following advice to schools, nurseries, playgroups, and child minders in relation to keeping healthy when mains water is unavailable or is low.

How can we maintain hygiene in schools, nurseries, playgroups, and child minders in the event of an interruption to the water supply?

• A school, nursery, playgroup, or child minder should not open in the absence of hot and cold running water.

• It is much more difficult to maintain adequate hand hygiene and hygienic toilet areas when the mains water supply is interrupted, particularly if the disruption continues for around more than one hour. Should the water supply be interrupted for more than around one hour, the principal or proprietor should assure themselves that an adequate amount of water is available during the interruption to ensure good hand hygiene and hygienic toilet areas. If not, the facility should close.

What other steps should we take to reduce the risk of infection, either in normal circumstances or with an interrupted water supply?

• hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of diseases;

• the recommended method is to use liquid soap, water and paper towels;

• hands should be washed after using the toilet, changing nappies, and before eating or handling food;

• sanitising wipes/hand gels, although useful at sterilising, are not an alternative to adequate hand washing;

• children/students with diarrhoea and vomiting should not attend school or should be sent home immediately if these symptoms are identified.