This is the Way We Wash Our Hands

Person washing his handsImage via Wikipedia

I came back from our Texas vacation with a cold which quickly became a sinus infection, an ear infection, and bronchitis.  If you’ve been following our vacation adventures, you know that the whole family in Texas succumbed to illness one-by-one and I was the last to bite the dust.  I REALLY thought I might escape it but didn’t.  One of the things I was doing to try to stay healthy was a LOT of hand-washing.

Children washing their hands before lunch. Tak...Image via Wikipedia

Now that I’m back home and recuperating with lots of time on my hands between coughs and nose-blowing, I thought it might be helpful to review just how we’re supposed to wash our hands to avoid illness.  It’s pretty basic stuff but you’d be amazed how tricky it can be in the course of the average day to be diligent in keeping those hands clean.

So when should we wash our hands?  Most of this is common sense but let’s have a quick review, ok?
You should wash your hands:

1.  Before you eat
2.  After you’ve handled raw meat or eggs
3.  After you’ve been around someone who is sick
4.  Before visiting with someone whose immune system might be compromised, including the elderly
5.  After going to the toilet
6.  Before preparing food
7.  After you blow your nose, if you can get to a faucet
8.  Anytime you have touched something “yucky” – use your own judgement here, like after changing a diaper, etc..hand washing with soapImage via Wikipedia

I also like to wash my hands if I’ve been out in public, shopping or going in and out of public places where I’ve had to open a lot of doors or touch escalators, elevator buttons, etc.  And that’s the rub, isn’t it?  We touch so many surfaces in the course of a day that your hands would be rubbed raw from washing them if we tried to keep them totally clean.  That’s why many people now carry antibacterial handwash or wipes with them for a quick wipe-down when they are out and about.  It’s also why the next little tip is very important.

TIP:  Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.  These are three areas through which germs can easily gain access to our bodies.  It’s also something that we do almost unconsciously throughout the day.

None - This image is in the public domain and ...Image via WikipediaHow should you wash your hands?
1.  Use warm running water whenever possible.  Wet your hands under the water.

2.  Lather your hands with bar soap or liquid soap.

3.  Now work that lather over your hand surfaces for between 15-20 seconds – that’s about as long as it would take you to mentally hum the “Happy Birthday” song or the “Alphabet Song.”

4.  When you are lathering your hands, work the soap lather on both the front and back surfaces of each hand, between each finger (including between your thumb and palm), work it under your fingernails, and up to your wrists.

5.  Rinse your hands under the running water and then dry your hands with a clean towel – disposable paper towels are preferable.  But wait… did you turn off that faucet?  Did you use your hand?  Think of all the people who touched that faucet.  You’re back to Square One, my friend.  You should always try to turn off the water faucet with a paper towel.

6.  Now head on out and if you have to open a restroom door, try to use a paper towel, your elbow, or a forearm, rather than those clean hands.

It’s a hostile environment out there with germs lurking everywhere.  Follow these tips and try to stay well, my friends.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find another tissue.

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