Wash and Dry Your Hands!
HOW do we catch colds and other infections? According to the U.S. Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, at least 80 percent of such ailments are transmitted by our hands, not through the air. In fact, hand washing is generally considered to be the single most important way to prevent the spread of illness. Yet, many do not always wash after using the toilet or blowing their nose or before handling food. Of course, many others always wash their hands at such times. But the potential for infection does not disappear after a quick, perfunctory job of hand washing.
Drying hands properly can be equally important. Researchers at the University of Westminster in England found that many people do not dry their hands thoroughly after washing, especially when using hot-air dryers. Many complete drying by wiping their hands on their clothes. This can spread any dangerous microorganisms left on the hands. According to the researchers, it is best to dry hands completely, preferably using disposable paper towels or a clean, unused cloth towel.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following hand-washing advice:
• Always use warm running water and mild soap. If forced to use a basin instead of running water, clean and disinfect it each time it is used. Premoistened towelettes do not effectively clean hands.
• Rub hands together vigorously until a soapy lather appears, and continue rubbing for at least 15 seconds. Scrub the tops and palms of the hands as well as between fingers and under fingernails.
• Rinse hands under warm running water.
• Dry with a clean disposable, or single-use, towel, and avoid touching the faucet or towel holder with clean hands.
• Turn the faucet off using the towel as a barrier to keep from touching the handle.
• Children should wash standing at a height where their hands can hang freely under the running water. Assist the child to perform all the above steps, and then wash your own hands.