It’s Handwashing Season!
Which do you think has more germs– a toilet or your desk at the office? Hold on to your
Lysol wipes; in a study by Viking Healthcare Solutions, the bacteria staphylococcus was
found on 60% of desks in offices. And, about 90% of office mugs contain germs and bacteria
that can make employees ill. And that’s not accounting for even a third of all the places germs live.
Because germs can survive on hands for up to three hours, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. And it’s certainly one of the most effective way of keeping large populations like students and faculties (who then go home) healthy.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 % of illness-causing germs are spread by your hands. When you wash your hands, you can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections such as a cold or flu. Reducing the number of infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world.
Unfortunately, studies show that one in five people don’t wash their hands, and of those that do, only 30 % use soap. A little education goes a long way in raising those numbers.
Germs All Around Us
One germ can multiply into more than 8 million germs in one day, and most of them are in your home.
• Your remote control is a top carrier of bacteria.
• There are more germs on your phone, keyboard and cutting board than on a toilet seat.
• When you flush the toilet, germs can spray up to 6 feet.
• Purses and handbags have up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch, and 30 percent of them contain fecal (poop) bacteria.
Germs can spread from person to person when you:
• Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
• Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
When to Wash Your Hands
You know to wash your hands before you prepare food or eat, but what about, before and/or after:
• Caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
• Blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• Touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
• Handling pet food or pet treats
• Handling garbage
• Using a computer
• Putting gas in your vehicle
• Treating a cut or wound
• Using the toilet (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, global rates of handwashing after using the toilet are only 19% ! Take a minute to think about that.)
• Changing diapers
How to Wash Your Hands
• First, wet your hands, then turn off the water, and apply soap.
• Rub your hands together to lather up the soap. Clean every surface from between your fingers and under your nails to your palms and the tops of your hands.
• Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
• Turn the water back on (warm or cold) and rinse well. (Research has not proven that hot water is more effective.)
• Dry your hands with a clean towel and use the towel to turn off the water and to open the door. And, be sure to dry your hands with paper towels and not just run them across your jeans. According to The Mayo Clinic, the transmission of bacteria is more likely to occur from wet skin than from dry skin. In fact, damp hands spread 1,000 times more germs than dry hands.
If soap and water aren’t accessible, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. NOTE: While sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on your hands, they do not get rid of all types of germs. And, baby wipes are not designed to remove the germs that are on your hands.
Make it a Family Activity
Once handwashing becomes a habit and a regular part of your child’s day, they will practice it throughout their lives.
• Lead by example. Be a role model for your children by washing your hands in front of them.
• Place cute notes or stickers in kids’ bathrooms to remind them to wash their hands.
Build time into your daily routine to wash your hands frequently, and stock up on hand cream this winter to counter the dryness your hands might experience.