Hand-washing 101: are you doing it right?
So this morning on your way to work, you hopped off the metro, grabbed a coffee in the food court, ran to your office, grabbed your notebook and ran off to a meeting. You shook hands with a few people you hadn’t met before, and before long, you’d rushed off to another meeting, where you met a few more new people. Did you squeeze in a couple of minutes to wash your hands? With all the running around you’re doing, washing your hands well and often is your best bet to keep germs at bay, especially with the annual cold and flu season knocking at the door.
Germs don’t care where they’re going
Infections such as colds and the flu are contagious, and the viruses that cause them can survive for hours on tissues and on the surfaces of toys, doorknobs, sink handles and telephones. Young children get infections easily and spread them to other children easily because they put their fingers or other objects in their mouth. Adults aren’t quite as ‘carefree’ but it’s our hands that put us in contact with most germs we encounter and these germs spread easily when you touch your nose or mouth, rub your eyes, or shake someone’s hand.
The best, easiest and least expensive way to reduce the spread of infection is to wash your hands with soap and water, or disinfect your hands with disinfectant gel when you can’t get to a sink.
Washing your hands: 7 simple steps to success
- Wet your hands with lukewarm water.
- Apply soap.
- Rub your hands together for 15 to 20 seconds.
- It is important to thoroughly soap all surfaces of both hands: your fingers, between your fingers, your thumbs, your palms, the back of your hands, and your nails.
- Rinse your hands with running lukewarm water.
- Dry your hands with a paper towel, a clean cloth towel, or a hand dryer.
- Turn off the tap with the paper towel, if available.
No sink nearby?
Hand wipes can be used when no sink is available. It’s an alternative to disinfectant gel that you can use even if your hands are visibly dirty.
Disinfectant gel is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
If your hands are not visibly dirty, you can use an alcohol-based product (minimum 60% alcohol content).
- Put a bit of disinfectant in the hollow of your hand.
- Rub it on all surfaces of your hands: your fingers, between your fingers, your thumbs, your palms, the back of your hands, and your nails.
- Keep rubbing until your hands have dried.
Make it a habit to wash your hands when you arrive at work, and when you get home, and always before handling food, prior to eating and any time during the day after you’ve been in public spaces. And if your work brings you in constant contact with the public, you’ll want to wash your hands as often as possible.