Maintaining good hand hygiene is vital to avoiding the spreading of germs and bacteria, yet there’s much more to it than rubbing a little soap and water over your hands. Like any other hygiene or sanitary practice, when you do it a little, you only tackle part of the problem. But when the practice of hand washing is done with the right techniques and frequency, it can make a huge difference in your health as well as the health of everyone with whom you come in contact. Here is some information to help you convey to those around you the importance of washing hands regularly.
How Often Should Hand Washing Take Place
Throughout the day microscopic germs accumulate on the surface of your hands and under fingernails. These germs are picked up from other surfaces, food, other people and the air. When the germs are left on your hands, they can easily be introduced into your eyes or your respiratory system by way of your mouth or nose. Tiny germs can also be passed along to others through contact or by handling food.
Hand washing before meals is a good start but it’s not enough. Hand washing should take place in all of these situations:
- before and after meal preparation
- before and after treating a sick or wounded person
- before putting a contact lense in or taking it out
- after changing a diaper or using the toilet
- after handling garbage, chemicals or anything dirty
- after contact with your pet, especially after cleaning its waste
- after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
Proper Hand Washing Method
Washing your hands too quickly or not thoroughly enough only removes some of the germs and bacteria. To ensure all bacteria and germs are removed, it’s important to wash your hands using a thorough hand washing procedure. To begin with, wet your hands with running water. The temperature of the water isn’t really important to the killing of germs and bacteria, only to the comfort of your hands. Warm water is best for comfort level.
Apply enough bar, powder or liquid soap to your hands to create a good soapy lather. Rub the soap around your hands vigorously for 20 seconds. Singing “Happy Birthday to You” one time through while you wash will easily get you through 20 seconds. While washing it’s important to focus on more than the palms and tops of the hands. Attention should also be paid to the area between your fingers, underneath your fingernails and the areas around your wrists. If water or soap is not available it is always a good idea to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you.
After washing is complete, it’s important to rinse hands well to avoid dry skin caused by soap residue. Avoid instant germ contamination by drying off with a disposable towel or an air dryer. Whenever possible, turn off the faucet with the disposable towel instead of your hands.
How to Convey the Importance of Hand Washing to Young Children
While most adults should have no problem understanding the importance of hand washing, children don’t always understand the method or reasons. Use fun signs, children books and other creative ways to help them understand the importance of washing hands regularly.