As the weather improves and visits to outdoor farms increase, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is reminding parents and teachers of the importance of schoolchildren washing their hands after being in contact with animals.
A visit to a farm and the chance to see and handle animals is an exciting time for young children.
However, it is vitally important to remember that farm animals can carry harmful bacteria such as E. coli, which can be transferred to children through contact with the animal or its faeces. If the child then goes on to eat, drink, or put their hands near their mouth, without washing their hands, there is a real risk of serious infection.
Urging everyone to follow simple hygiene steps to avoid spoiling anyone’s fun, Malcolm Downey who heads HSENI’s farm safety team said: “To reduce the risk everyone, adults included, should thoroughly wash their hands using soap and water if they have either touched the animals or touched anything the animals may have touched.
“Anti-bacterial gels and wipes alone are not a substitute for properly washing your hands.”
An interactive ‘Farm Visit’ game is available to underline to children the importance of washing their hands. In the interactive game farm yard super heroes Captain Soapy and his warm friend Flo guide the children in the best way to keep clean and healthy and encourage them to think about safety when visiting a farm.