With all the emphasis on screening preventative health we sometimes forget about the simple things that can make a big difference over a lifetime. The act of washing your hands can reduce the spread of diarrhoea and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
Handwashing should be done when preparing food, before eating, before and after caring for someone who is sick, before and after treating a wound, after using the toilet or changing a nappy. A sneeze, hand cough or blowing your nose justifies a hand wash as does handling animals or animal waste, pet food or treats and putting out the garbage. If you think you should wash your hands then do!
It isn’t rocket science but there is an art to washing your hands well. Teach the kids!
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Interestingly there is no good evidence that the ‘antibacterial’ hand wash lotions are any better for household use than soap. Hand sanitizers are not as good as soap and water but are a reasonable substitute if you do no have running water (eg if you are out camping).
Handwashing, over a lifetime of health care, will make a significant difference to how often you and your family get sick.