By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach
Personal hygiene begins and ends with our hands.
Healthy hands are happy hands so be sure to keep hands clean to prevent viruses from spreading. It’s one of those everyday precautions besides covering your coughs and sneezes and avoiding close contact when you are feeling unwell.
At Health Partnership Clinic, we follow several proactive steps to ensure the safety of our staff and patients. On the top of the list is frequent handwashing. At home, it is equally important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides several useful tips and reminders to keep you and your family healthy.
Remember, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick—that goes for COVID, the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and colds!
According to the CDC, handwashing can prevent one in three diarrhea-related illnesses and one in five infections, including the flu.
How Germs Spread
Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touch a contaminated surface or objects
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Did you know… A typical human sneeze exits the body at about 200 miles per hour and emits around 40,000 droplets into the air. Wow!
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
Did you know… The CDC reports that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women washed their hands after using a public restroom. Yuck!
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
It is also recommended that you should clean hands:
- After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.
- Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies.
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals and clinics.
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60 percent alcohol by looking at the product label. Remember to keep hand sanitizer out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning.
Get the whole family involved in handwashing. HPC has developed an easy-to-follow tip sheet for children. Check it out.