By Nurse Diane
Last week I told you about National Influenza Week and the importance of getting your flu shot to prepare for the upcoming flu season. I was explaining my research to a friend of mine whose daughter is pregnant. Since she works in the public, I also explained the importance of good hand washing. He told me that she did get a flu shot, but I explained that there are other bugs around that she could get too, and the best way to prevent acquiring other illnesses was to wash her hands.
Did you know that:
- 2/3 of adults in the US wash hands after using the bathroom.
- 1 in 4 adults don’t wash hands after changing diapers.
- Less than 1/2 of Americans wash hands after cleaning up after pets.
- 1 in 3 wash hands after sneezing/coughing.
- Less than 1 in 5 wash hands after touching money.
- 1 in 3 E.coli occurrences is caused from not washing hands before handling food.
These statistics show that there is some kind of germ just waiting to jump on you.
Hand washing is important because:
- Children have weaker immune systems than adults and can become sick quicker.
- 1 in 3 E.coli outbreaks is caused by poor hand washing by food preparers.
- Germs that cause disease live in meat, vegetables, and more.
- Germs are spread from unclean hands to food, usually when the food handler doesn’t wash after going to the bathroom. Germs are then passed on to those who eat the food.
- Germs spread from uncooked foods like hamburger to the hands, then from the hands to other foods like salads. The germs can remain in the salads and eventually affect those who eat the food.
- Putting cooked meat back into its original container re-contaminates the cooked food. - Cutting vegetables on the same board used to cut meat contaminates the vegetables.
- Some main rules to follow when washing your hands include:
- Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
- Wash your hands when they’re dirty.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
- Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands. The proper way to wash your hands is:
- Wet hands with warm water (not hot) and use soap.
- Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
- Rub for a minimum of 15 seconds or sing “Happy Birthday.”
- Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
- Turn faucet off with the towel, not hands, to keep away from recontamination.
- It also doesn’t hurt to use the towel to pull the door open, or either use your shirt or, slide your arm under the handle.
Always keep your hands clean, not only does it protect you, but others you may come in contact.