It could be a handshake from a friend or stranger. It could be from turning numerous door knobs in the office, rest rooms, stores and public buildings, picking up the telephone or pushing elevator buttons. These are just some of the things that your hands do and come into contact with everyday.
What you may not have paid closer attention to is that behind these routines lurk millions of germs that are transmitted from one individual to another. When you come in contact with germs, simply touching your eyes, nose or mouth will spread the infection much faster.
Hand washing is a hygiene practice parents hammer on your tender mind even before you learn how to walk. And remember as kids how we don’t always listen and follow the same instructions everyday? We thought our parents have nothing better to do but nag, nag and nag us to wash our hands.
When we were old enough to go to school, we thought we were free from the constant reminders to wash our hands but we were in for a disappointment because right from day one, hand washing is again taught like it is being a part of the kindergarten curriculum. There is no escape and no graduation because the situation is reversed when you have kids of your own and it is your turn to teach your kids the importance of hand washing.
In a nutshell, hand washing is one practice that everybody should do because it is unquestionably a very simple way and the most important tool to prevent the spread of infection and illnesses.
Hand washing campaign to combat flu virus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing to especially help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
The CDC stressed that if people don’t wash their hands as often as possible, the probability of picking up germs from other sources and then infect themselves is great.
“You’re at risk every time you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. In fact, one of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after the cold virus has gotten on their hands,” CDC stated.
In the CNMI, the Department of Public Health personnel are going full force in their campaign to combat the spread of the H1N1 flu virus with hand washing as the first step toward prevention.
The Public Health last month reported a slight increase in seasonal flu cases, and they are expecting more cases toward the yearend and up to early next year.
DPH program analyst Roxanne Diaz said that in anticipation, they are going all out campaigning against the flu in all schools. The 5-step flu-WATCH campaign starts with hand washing, Diaz said.
“We could never stress the importance of hand washing enough, not only to kids but for adults to make it a habit,” she said.
Washing your hands is like creating a first line defense against any attack of germs, and everybody needs that defense.
How to wash your hands
Use warm water if it is available and soap to wash your hands.
Make a lather by rubbing your hands together and scrub all surfaces.
Continue scrubbing your hands for 15 to 20 seconds each time. If you need a timer, the CDC recommends that you imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice and you’re done.
Rinse your hands well under running water.
Use a paper towel or air dryer to dry your hands after washing.
If soap and clean water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub or hand sanitizers to clean your hands.
When to wash your handsAs kids graduate into adulthood, they don’t need to be told to wash their hands anymore but come to think of it, how many times do you actually wash your hands in a day? Only when you take a bath or use the washroom? The technique is not to keep count of how many times you wash your hands, but to make it a habit or a routine practice for you and for everyone else in the family, especially:
• Before preparing, cooking or eating
• After using the bathroom
• After cleaning around the house
• After touching animals, even family pets
• Before and after visiting or tending sick family members, friends or relatives
• Before and after treating an open wound or a cut
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After staying outside from working, playing, handling garbage, etc.
• After changing your child’s diapers or after cleaning a child who came from the bathroom.
Never under-estimate the power of hand washing! Clean hands save lives and the few seconds you spend at the sink every now and then could save you trips to the doctor and spare you from spending hundreds of dollars in medical bills. Make that trip to the sink now and start saving your life!