The power is in your hands when it comes to preventing the flu. By practicing basic hand washing techniques you will protect yourself regardless of the people around you. Sure, it is a routine that we often take for granted. But if you stop and think about exactly where your hands have been, you’ll give it way more thought next time you’re standing in front of the sink.
Hand washing is crucial to avoiding illnesses, including the winter colds and the dreaded flu. And with the first week of December upon us, it is time to commemorate National Hand Washing Awareness Week.
So when should you wash your hands? Lather up with soap and water before handling food and eating meals. Wash your hands before touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth. The Mayo Clinic advises washing your hands before removing contact lenses, treating wounds and touching an injured or sick person.
You should also wash your hands after using the bathroom, coughing or sneezing and after being out and about in public places. After you finish your holiday shopping at the mall, head straight to the sink, for instance.
Now that we’ve established when to soap up, let’s talk about the proper routine of how to wash your hands. Wet your hands with clean running water and use the amount of soap equivalent to a teaspoon. Clean underneath your fingernails, the back of your hands and between your fingers. Scrub the edges of your fingernails on the palm of your hand in order to let the soapy water work its magic in the fingernails.
You should scrub vigorously for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing is an effective indicator of proper hand washing timing. Learn more about hand washing from our very own Linda Ratner, here.
Be aware that your hands can become re-contaminated as soon as you come into contact with grimy sink faucets and bathroom door handles. Use paper towels as a protective barrier against bacteria.
Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Keep in mind that sanitizers only reduce the number of germs, but DO NOT eliminate all types of germs.
We encourage parents to advise their children to take an active role in learning proper hand washing techniques. Visit www.henrythehand.com to learn fun, creative ways to teach your kids about the importance of clean hands.
The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness (from Henry the Hand)
1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating
2. DO NOT cough into your hands (Try using the crook of your elbow instead)
3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands (Try using the crook of your elbow instead)
4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth
At Impact Urgent Care we will be launching our Bug Buster program in January to help kids learn proper hand washing techniques. Contact our offices if you would like more information about this program or would like for us to visit your school to perform a Bug Buster demonstration.