Why is Hand Washing Important?
Washing your hands is the best and easiest way to prevent:
– Getting sick
– Spreading germs
– Infection from bacteria
– Contamination from fecal matter or bodily fluids
Every day, we touch surfaces, objects, foods, and other people. Our contact with the outside world and environment means contact with germs, bacteria, viruses, organic matter, and other microorganisms.
As these microorganisms and matter remain on our hands and fingers, we can easily transfer and infect our own bodies by touching our own eyes, noses, ears, mouths, or through open cuts on our hands themselves.
The best way to prevent getting sick from the transfer of microorganisms is to always wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after and before certain situations.
When Should You Wash Your Hands?
Always wash your hands when:
– You use the bathroom
– You prepare or eat food
– You engage in any medical or bodily procedures such as treating a cut or wound
– You arrive at work or home so that you keep your personal spaces clean and bacteria-free
– You interact with a lot of people shaking hands such as at a conference or networking event
– You take public transportation like trains or buses where you have to hold on to the poles and push turnstyles
– You handle or interact with animals or pets
– You are cleaning or handling garbage
If a sink and soap aren’t available, the next best option is to use a hand sanitizer which will effectively kill bacteria, but will not remove any physical organic matter. Washing your hands and using a hand sanitizer is by far the most successful at killing bacteria, removing organic matter, and ensuring that your hands are clean.
Who Should Wash Their Hands?
Everyone should wash their hands as frequently as they need to, but there are some people that should always be mindful of washing their hands including:
– Food services workers such as chefs, cooks, and waiters
– Doctors, dentists and other medical professionals
– Teachers and educational workers
– Maintenance and cleaning service employees
– Animal shelter workers
Children are the one demographic that need consistent reminders to wash their hands. Kids are generally not educated and aware of dangers posed by bacteria and cross contamination, but they are also least mindful of their actions and how touching dirty surfaces means that their hands are now dirty. Children and the elderly also have the weakest immune systems and are therefore more susceptible to catching and being infected by a disease.
How Should I Wash My Hands?
1) Rinse or wet your hands with warm water
2) Apply hand soap – in form of bar or liquid
3) Lather soap in your hands
4) Apply soap to all areas of hands, back of hands, fingers, fingernails and even up to your wrist
5) Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
6) Rinse hands with warm water and make sure to run water up to your wrists
7) Dry your hands with a paper towel or air dryer
8) Use a paper towel to turn off water and open door to restroom (toilet paper if no paper towel is available)
Hand Washing Tips
– Don’t touch restroom faucets or door knobs. Try to use a paper towel or toilet paper if possible. Use the back of your hand or elbow as a last resort.
– Always wash your hands when you come home. Create a barrier between the outside world and your personal spaces by keeping them free of outside germs.
– Don’t be afraid to carry around a disposable glove or paper towel to open public doors or hold on to stair railings. You may be saving yourself from days of sickness.
– Alcohol based hand sanitizers are an effective alternative to washing your hands when a restroom isn’t available. Make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol to be effective.
Facts About Hand Washing
Here are some fun and alarming facts about hand washing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
– More than 50% of healthy people have viruses living on their skin, hair, throats or nasal passages. That means half of the people you shake hands with or half of the people who sneeze and don’t cover their mouths have viruses that can easily be transferred to you.
– The average swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal matter to a pool within 15 minutes of entering. That will make you think twice about going into a crowded pool or especially into the public pool full of kids!
– Cutting boards contact more fecal matter than toilet seats. Remember to wash your meats before preparation!
– Keyboards and office desks contain more bacteria than toilet seats. Always disinfect your work spaces!
– Hotel remote controls are very dirty and never disinfected. Forget the television and go sight seeing!