October 15 was Global Handwashing Day — seriously. And it is a serious matter — clean hands save lives!
A study published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates that less than one-third of men and two-thirds of women wash their hands with soap after using the restroom! Well that’s fairly disgusting. Researchers studied the behavior of a quarter of a million people using restrooms in Britain, and used sensors to monitor soap use.
Hand washing is the simplest — and cheapest — way to avoid getting sick, helping to prevent the common cold, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infections, MRSA, food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli, and of course, the swine flu (H1N1), among other things.
In the home, frequent hand washing, especially before and after food preparation, eating, diaper changing, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom, will prevent germs from spreading among family members.
In hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, frequent hand washing can prevent deadly infections from spreading between health care workers and patients.
There is a right way and a wrong way to wash your hands. The wrong way would be to give your hands an obligatory rinse with water because no one is looking. The right way, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is:
When washing hands with soap and water:
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
- Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
- Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds.
- Rinse hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
- Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast-acting. When using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
- Apply product to the palm of one hand.
- Rub hands together.
- Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.
We’ve known about the benefits of hand washing for a long time, but people still don’t wash as often as they should. When it comes to health care policy, nothing could be easier.
Photo: Centers for Disease Control