Handwashing is one of the most effective methods for preventing the spread of diseases, but as you may have noticed from the graphic above, people don’t wash their hands anywhere near as often as they say they do. Any surface touched by someone with unwashed, bacteria-laden hands becomes infected, making the world we live in a veritible minefield of disease. But before you start stockpiling hand santizer and lock yourself in a bomb shelter, check out these easy methods for keeping your hands clean.
- WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE EATING
The idea here is to eliminate germs before they have the chance to enter your body. To properly wash your hands:
- Apply soap to wet hands.
- Work into a lather for at least 20 seconds (protip: hum happy birthday twice if you need a timer).
- Make sure to scrub the backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails.
- Rinse with running water.
- Dry hands with clean towel or air dry.
You can use hand sanitizer as an alternative, but remember, santiters do not eliminate all types of germs and are not effective when hands are visibly dirty. Handwashing before you eat is just the start. To ensure maximum safety, you should also wash your hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After riding on public transportation
- After using the toilet
- After using shared gym equipment
- After handling money
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After touching or taking out garbage
- After any other potentially gross things you do that I couldn’t think of
2. DO NOT COUGH INTO YOUR HANDS
Coughing is, among other things, your body’s way of expelling bacteria and other unwanted organisms. Don’t sabotage yourself by putting those germs right back onto your body. If possible, try coughing into a napkin or into the crook of your elbow (like a vampire). This is also a good way to avoid infecting common areas and surfaces. What a good neighbor!
3. DO NOT SNEEZE INTO YOUR HANDS
Basically the same as #2, but important enough to get it’s own section. Seriously, don’t do it! Because no one wants to touch this.
4. DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EYES, NOSE, OR MOUTH
I know, a classic case of “easier said than done”, but it’s the key component to hand awareness. The mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth (also known as the “T Zone” – draw a T on a face if you don’t get it) are the only entrances on your body for bacteria that cause respiratory and gastrointestinal disease. Simply put, if nothing infected touches your T Zone, it’s near impossible for you to get sick.
If trusting other people to keep their hands clean is your only game plan, consider following these four rules! It will go a long way towards protecting yourself from the bacteria culture that is our world. Stay healthy, Heels!