Keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent COVID-19 and other viruses from spreading. Handwashing is one of the best ways to keep you and your family from getting sick. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands. Transmissions can occur when you prepare food or drinks with unwashed hands. And also, when you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose and then touch common objects.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol to avoid the transmission of germs. Critical times for handwashing are before and after:
Preparing and eating food;
Using the restroom;
Caring for someone who is ill;
Blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;
Touching animals or their food;
Washing hands is easy and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Follow these five steps every time you wash your hands:
Wet hands under clean running water;
Lather hands with soap, rubbing vigorously between fingers, the backs of the hands, and clean under nails;
Scrub for twenty seconds. If you need a timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice;
Rinse hands well;
Dry with a clean towel or air dry.
Soap and water is the best way to clean your hands. When that is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers cannot effectively kill all germs, but they will reduce the germs. There are some types of germs that hand sanitizer cannot kill. Also, hand sanitizer will not get rid of chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals.
When using hand sanitizer, place a small amount in one palm and rub palms together until completely dry. It usually takes about twenty seconds to complete this process.
Remember- germs are everywhere. Make handwashing with soap and water a healthy habit to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
Sherry Hayman, RN, is a public health nurse at the Meigs County Health Department.