It is that time again.
During the past few weeks it seems as though many people have been getting sick. People at work, family members, and friends have been talking about the runny nose, the sneezing, the body aches, and who knows what else taking hold on their bodies.
There’s nothing like the common cold to put a damper on your week, but hey, it fits along with the old saying “misery loves company”.
With that in mind, it seemed a little too perfect that December 4th through 10th is National Handwashing Awareness Week.
You may be thinking, “Washing my hands? Of course I do that. Everyone does that.”
Well, it may seem obvious for us to wash our hands regularly, but many people still do not do it, or they do not do it effectively.
For just a moment think of everything you use your hands for.
You use them to talk on the phone, type on a keyboard, push a shopping cart, clean your house, and eat. You touch various surfaces at home, at work, and when you are out and about. Even if you do not realize it, you come into contact with a lot of different germs and bacteria each day.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine” (Source: CDC).
Not only does it kill germs on our hands, it also prevents the spread of illness and disease.
Think, wouldn’t it be nice if you could prevent yourself or your family from getting respiratory infections like the flu, the common cold, bronchitis, strep throat, and pneumonia? What about illnesses that infect the eye, like conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye? Well, you can!
Washing our hands is one of the easiest steps we can take to prevent sickness. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Follow the CDC’s guide for effective handwashing:
- WET your hands with clean running water.
- LATHER your hands with soap. Don’t forget between the fingers, under the nails, and on the back of the hands.
- SCRUB your hands for at least 20 seconds. This is about equal to singing the Happy Birthday song twice, or the ABC’s song once.
- RINSE off your soapy hands with clean water.
- DRY your hands thoroughly.
Wash your hands frequently!
Especially after using the restroom, before touching any food, or when they are visibly dirty. If you cannot access soap and water, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol as a temporary alternative.
Do not touch your T Zone.
This refers to your eyes, nose, and mouth. These mucous membranes are the port of entry for respiratory infections into your body. Do yourself a favor and just avoid touching your face.
Do not cough or sneeze into your hands.
If you can’t resist, make sure to wash your hands afterwards!
Keeping your hands clean will go a long way in protecting your health this winter—both for your eyes and the rest of your body.
Written by Kendra Shiffler