Safety steps are necessary when dealing with dirty diapers

They have rather exotic sounding names: salmonella, norovirus, E.coli, listeria. Even when a child is healthy, these are some of the germs found in dirty diapers. Follow some key safety steps to avoid causing illness.

Follow these safety steps when changing diapers.
Follow these safety steps when changing diapers.

Salmonella, listeria, norovirus, and listeria – these are some of the germs found in dirty diapers that can cause illness, even when the child is healthy. Contaminated hands spread many germs that cause people to get sick through foodborne illness. It’s important to follow some key safety steps when changing diapers, especially if you will be preparing food afterwards.

Michigan State University Extension recommends you follow these steps when changing diapers:

  • Have a designated spot in your home where you change diapers. This keeps the germs confined to one place.
  • Never change diapers near food preparation or dining areas.
  • Have all the necessary supplies on hand before removing the soiled diaper. This includes wipes, a fresh diaper and cream or ointment if you are using them.
  • Lay the child on a washable or disposable changing pad. Don’t forget to wash changing pads frequently, even if they don’t look soiled. Place the disposable pads in a plastic bag before disposing with the trash.
  • If the child’s clothes are soiled, place them in a plastic bag so they won’t contaminate anything else before they go into the washing machine.
  • Remove the soiled diaper, being careful not to contaminate any surfaces with feces or urine.
  • Use disposable wipes to clean the baby’s skin, wiping from front to back. Use a fresh wipe each time.
  • Put the dirty wipes and diaper (if it is disposable) into a plastic bag, then seal and throw out with the trash. If a reusable cloth diaper is being used, place it in a hands-free covered can or diaper pail that is lined with plastic. If you’re washing the cloth diapers yourself, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends presoaking them. Then wash them in hot water – apart from other clothes – and double rinse each wash.
  • Don’t place diapers on the floor, bed or any other surface. Put them directly into a plastic bag or diaper pail.
  • After thoroughly cleaning the buttocks and genitalia, slide a fresh diaper under the child and fasten.
  • Wash the child’s hands by wetting with warm water and lathering with soap. Wash hands, up to the wrists, as well as between fingers for 20 seconds. Rinse and thoroughly dry with paper towel. Use the towel to turn off the faucet, as well.
  • Wash and dry your own hands for at least twenty seconds.

Millions of people – an estimated one in six U.S. residents get sick through foodborne illnesses each year. Half of these illness victims are under age 15. This type of illness can seriously affect babies and young children, as well as pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic conditions. The effects of foodborne illness may last many years. So do what you can to protect your family.

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