Reducing the Spread of Germs

After a stressful day at work, you might imagine how nice it would be to call in sick the next day. Actually experiencing sickness, however, is not pleasant. To decrease your chances of becoming ill, and to prevent spreading germs to others, you can avoid contact with public devices. You can also make sure to wash your hands properly.

How Should You Wash?

Use running water when you wash your hands. The water should be clean, but it does not need to be a certain temperature. People typically prefer warm water, but cold water can be just as effective. Suds your hands well with soap and vigorously massage them. Scrub your hands on the front and back, along with your wrists, the area under your fingernails, and the skin between each of your fingers.

Continue to work the soap around for 20 seconds or longer. Some people like to time themselves by humming the song “Happy Birthday” or reciting the alphabet twice. Use clean, running water to rinse your hands. Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel.

When Should You Wash?

If you notice that your hands are visibly dirty, you will probably wash them. There are additional times, however, when it is important to wash your hands. Such occasions include before and after eating or preparing food, before removing or inserting contact lenses, and before and after treating wounds or caring for someone who is sick.

In addition, you need to wash your hands after handling garbage, pet waste, or pet food; coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose; and touching an animal, animal waste, or animal food. Also wash after using the toilet, helping someone to use the toilet, or changing diapers.

Why Should You Wash?

During the course of a typical day, your hands pick up germs by touching people, objects, and surfaces. These germs and viruses can subsequently enter your body through your mouth, nose, or eyes or spread to others. By washing your hands frequently, you help to stop, or at least greatly reduce, the transfer of viruses, bacteria, or other microbes.

When Should You Use Hand Sanitizer?

If you find that soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer would be an acceptable alternative. The CDC recommends that sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective.

The label indicates the appropriate amount to apply to the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together, spreading the gel completely over your hands and fingers until they feel dry. Because alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause poisoning if swallowed, supervise their use by young children, and store the containers in a secure place.