With various viruses making both adults and children across the country sick and sending many into the hospital, health professionals are recommending frequent and effective hand washing for all of us as a first line of defense against catching and spreading illnesses. But just giving your hands a quick rinse won’t do the trick. There are several important elements involved with proper technique to rid your hands of germs, viruses and other harmful organisms.
6 Steps to Proper Washing:
- Wet hands with running water.
- Apply soap.
- Lather up to create foam/bubbles.
- Scrub your hands and wrists including between the fingers and under the nails for at least 20 seconds. If you sing the Happy Birthday tune twice, that should be long enough.
- Rinse under clean running water.
- Dry with a disposable or clean towel or under air.
Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) is a good alternative when traditional hand washing is not possible or practical. Carry some with you at all times, especially when out in public. Give it to your kids to use when at school after handling class pets, gym and playground equipment, etc. Rub it all over your hands, in the same manner as traditional hand washing, until dry. It’s important to note that hand sanitizers do not remove all types of germs, so traditional hand washing should still be used as soon as possible afterward.
When to Wash
- Before and after preparing food (and during as needed). Don’t prepare food for others while infected yourself.
- Before and after eating.
- After using any restroom or assisting others with same, including diaper changing.
- Before and after inserting contact lenses.
- Before and after tending to sores or wounds.
- Before and after caring for a sick person.
- After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
- Upon returning from a public place (store, train, school, etc.).
- After touching any contaminated surface/object.
- After touching animals, their food and their accessories.
- After cleaning or using chemicals.
- Any time your hands are dirty.
Additional Tips to Prevent the Spread of Viruses:
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces often such as doorknobs, phones, remote controls, etc.
- Keep hands away from eyes, mouth and nose.
- Stay home, and keep your kids home, when feeling sick.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils and cups.
- Minimize physical contact when sick such as kissing and hugging.