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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by Calvagna M

IMAGE Chances are you have been washing your own hands for quite a while. All it takes is a little soap and some water, right? There is a bit more to hand washing. Find out how to wash your hands the right way and why it matters so much.

Why Washing Your Hands Is Important

The best thing you can do to keep from getting sick and to stop the spread of germs is to wash your hands often. This washes away germs that you may have gotten from other people or from surfaces. One of the most common ways people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their noses or eyes. Washing your hands often can lower the spread of these viruses.

You cannot tell if you have germs on your hands by looking at them. It is very important to wash your hands at these times:

  • When your hands are dirty
  • Before, during, and after you make something to eat
  • Before you eat
  • After you use the bathroom
  • After you change a diaper or help a child in the bathroom
  • After touching animals or animal waste
  • After taking out the trash
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
  • Before and after treating a cut or sore
  • When caring for someone who is sick

Here's How

To wash your hands the right way, follow these simple steps:

  • First, wet your hands with warm or cold water.
  • Put soap on your hands.
  • Rub your hands together with the soap.
  • Scrub all parts of your hands for at least 20 seconds. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end two times. It is about 20 seconds long.
  • Rinse your hands well and dry them with a clean paper towel, clean towel, or air dryer.
  • If you can, use the paper towel to turn off the water and open the door.

Note: Use alcohol-based hand rubs when you do not have soap. Squirt some into the palm of your hand and rub your hands all over until they are dry. If you can see dirt on your hands, it is best to wash them with soap and water.

RESOURCES

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  http://www.cdc.gov 

United States Department of Health and Human Services  http://www.hhs.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian National Occupation Health and Safety Resource  http://www.ccohs.ca/ 

Health Canada  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php 

References

Guinan M, McGuckin M, Ali Y. The effect of a comprehensive handwashing program on absenteeism in elementary schools. Am J Infect Control. 2002 Jun;30(4):217-20.

Keeping your hands clean on a cruise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/Handwashing/HandwashingTips.htm. Accessed January 29, 2021.

Wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/. Accessed January 29, 2021.

The SNAP Toolkit. School Network for Absenteeism Prevention website. available at: http://www.itsasnap.org/index.asp.

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