11/13/2008

Get the Upper Hand on Germs: Wash Your Hands

You use your hands constantly. They're handy for all sorts of tasks, including
unwanted ones, such as picking up germs and spreading them around. Thankfully,
it's very easy to wash your hands, but there is a right way to do it. Hurrying
out of the bathroom stall, rinsing your fingertips quickly under the tap and
wiping them on your pants as you rush out the door does not work.

Proper hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of
infections and avoid getting sick. The goal is to stop the spread of "germs,"
which is a general term for microbes such as viruses and bacteria. Germs spread
when you touch another person, or when you touch a contaminated object and then
touch your own face. Hand-to-hand contact is often responsible for the spread
of the common cold, flu, and gastrointestinal disorders.

So take a moment to learn this technique:

How to wash your hands
Remove rings or other jewellery. Use plenty of warm water and soap to form a
lather. Rub the hands, wrists and forearms to create friction, making sure to
get under the nails and between the fingers. Do this for at least 10 seconds.
If you don't feel like counting, sing "Happy Birthday To You" in your head.
Then rinse your hands under running water and dry your hands with a single use
towel or air dryer. Turn off the tap with a paper towel or tissue - then throw
it in the garbage. Be careful not to touch dirty surfaces (taps, door handles
etc) with your bare hands as you leave the bathroom.

Soap does not generally kill microorganisms, but it creates a slippery surface
that allows these contaminants to "slide off" the skin. Experts agree, however,
that antibacterial soaps are generally "overkill" except in hospitals and
should be used with caution.

When you don't have access to soap and water, waterless hand scrubs (lotions or
towelettes made with ethyl alcohol and skin softeners) can be an effective
alternative. Hands that are heavily contaminated with dirt, blood, or other
organic materials, however, should be scrubbed in soap and warm water.

When to wash up


  • You cannot see germs, but it is wise to wash your hands in these situations:
  • When hands are visibly soiled.
  • After contact with body fluids - using the washroom, changing a diaper,
    blowing your nose, or sneezing in your hands.
  • Before and after eating or drinking or handling food, especially raw meat,
    poultry or fish.
  • After contact with animals or animal waste. Wash up after playing with your
    pet or changing the kitty litter.
  • After contact with garbage.
  • Before and after contact with sick people.

Help prevent the spread of infectious illnesses. Wash your hands!

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety