Although we know we are supposed to sing “Happy Birthday” or the “A-B-C’s” while washing our hands, we don’t all do it. A recent study conducted by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association found that 92% of adults say they wash their hands after using a public rest room, but only 77% actually do (www.washup.org).
Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. To effectively wash your hands, use warm water and soap, and scrub your hands for 15 seconds or more, paying special attention to under your finger nails and rings. Thoroughly dry your hands on a clean towel.
The Center for Disease Control and Preventions suggests that you wash your hands:
- Before eating.
- Before, during, and after handling or preparing food.
- After contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, or saliva).
- After changing a diaper.
- After you use the bathroom.
- After handling animals, their toys, leashes, or waste.
- After touching something that could be contaminated (such as a trash can, cleaning cloth, drain, or soil).
- Before dressing a wound, giving medicine or inserting contact lenses.
- More often when someone in your home is sick.
- Whenever they look dirty.
If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers, which can be found in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until they are dry.
Simple hand washing can be the difference between becoming sick and staying healthy. Do your part to keep germs under control. To learn more about disease prevention, contact Winneshiek Medical Center, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov