Washing your hands is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses. Here are some best practices and handy information (pun intended) for proper handwashing.
5 Easy Steps for Washing Your Hands
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) breaks down the science behind handwashing and provides simple steps to remember.
Wet your hands with clean, running water.
Lather your hands by running them together. Be sure to get the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air day.
The Ins and Outs of Handwashing
Here are some quick FAQs related to handwashing.
Should I use warm or cold water?
Use either! The CDC states that the temperature of the water doesn’t appear to affect microbe (tiny living organisms) removal. Keep in mind that warmer temperatures may irritate skin.
Are hand sanitizers just as effective?
In short, no. Hand sanitizers can reduce the number of microbes in some situations, but they don’t get rid of all types of germs. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Then wash your hands as soon possible. Check out the science behind hand sanitizer recommendations.
Are baby wipes a good alternative?
No. Baby wipes may make your hands look clean, but they don’t remove germs.
How do I teach my child proper handwashing behaviors?
Lead by example and provide regular reminders of how and when to wash their hands. Teach your child to wash their hands:
- After using the bathroom.
- Before, during and after preparing food.
- Before eating.
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
- After blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
- After touching an animal or handling pet food.
- After touching trash.
Why is handwashing important?
According to the CDC, many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Proper handwashing can prevent 1 in 5 respiratory infections, like the cold or flu.
For more safety tips, check out the EMS Safety blog!
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