(CMR) One of the greatest surprises from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a new campaign encouraging people to wash their hands. It is truly amazing that handwashing is the single most effective thing you can do on a personal level to slow the transmission of this and many other illnesses. Handwashing is simple yet extremely effective and most people have access to water and soap several times during the day.
October 15 was Global Handwashing Day which completely went under the radar for most of us. The most important take away with washing your hands is how well you do it and how long you do it!
Whilst people rushing to purchase hand sanitizers they should in fact be handwashing. It is much more effective than using hand sanitizers and does not strip your hands of its protective coating. One publication recently shared:
“Outside of the hospital most people catch respiratory viruses from direct contact with people who already have them, and hand sanitizers won't do anything in those circumstances. And they haven't been shown to have more disinfecting power than just washing your hands with soap and water.”
According to the Centers for Diseae Control (CDC), however, for hand sanitizer to be effective, it must be used correctly. That means using the proper amount (read the label to see how much you should use), and rubbing it all over the surfaces of both hands until your hands are dry. Do not wipe your hands or wash them after applying.
The following information was obtained from the CDC and reminds us all of the importance of handwashing:
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy
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
- 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
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.
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.
Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
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% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,
- Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
- Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
- Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.