December 1-7 is National Hand Washing Awareness Week 2020. Why? Many people become ill this time of year. And washing your hands is one of the easiest steps to take to prevent illness and spreading infections to others.
Where do we get germs from?
A big source of germs comes from poop! We may come in contact with germs from feces when cleaning up after animals, petting animals, changing a baby’s diaper, and going to the bathroom. It is also easy to get germs on your hands after handling raw meat, or handling objects that someone has touched after coughing or sneezing. Once the germs are on our hands, they do not go away until we wash our hands. If we do not wash our hands, the germs will contaminate everything we touch.
How do the germs spread?
Germs are spread easily through touch. People touch their eyes, nose, and mouth often and don’t even realize it. Germs can get into our food and drinks when they are being prepared by unwashed hands. Germs can also be spread by touching objects like doorknobs, cell phones, toys, and menus, which can then be transferred to another person touching these same objects. If you are already sick, these germs can be spread by coughing and sneezing as well.
When to wash your hands:
- After using the bathroom
- When you have touched animals and/or their waste
- After changing a diaper
- After touching the trash
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before eating
- Before/during/after preparing food
- After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
How to properly wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean running water.
- Apply soap.
- Lather and scrub your hands (front, back, in-between fingers) for 20 seconds.
- Rinse off soap with clean running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry.
Washing your hands with just water is not enough. Soap must be used to have clean hands.
What about hand sanitizer?
Handwashing with soap and water is the best way to kill and remove germs from your hands. If you are not able to wash your hands, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is the next best thing. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol will kill most of the germs on your hands, but will not remove the germs. Only soap and clean running water will kill and remove the germs from your hands.