Hand washing (or handwashing), also known as hand hygiene, is the act of cleaning hands for the purpose of removing soil, dirt, and microorganisms.
Handwashing with soap consistently at critical moments during the day prevents the spread of diseases like diarrhea and cholera which are transmitted through faecal-oral routes. People can become infected with respiratory diseases such as influenza or the common cold, for example, if they do not wash their hands before touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes.
Always wash your hands before:
- Preparing food or eating
- Treating wounds or caring for a sick person
- Inserting or removing contact lenses
- Preparing food
- Using the toilet, changing a diaper or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- Touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- Handling garbage
- Handling pet food or pet treats
- Also, wash your hands when they are visibly dirty.
Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands frequently. Wash your hands with your child to show him or her how it’s done.
Follow these steps:
- It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water — either warm or cold.
- Apply soap and lather well.
- Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- Rinse well.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don’t require water, are an acceptable alternative when soap and water aren’t available. If you use a hand sanitizer, make sure the product contains at least 60% alcohol. Follow these steps:
- Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
Hand-washing offers great rewards in terms of preventing illness. Adopting this habit can play a major role in protecting your health.
Remember your health… is your responsibility!