Personal hygiene begins and ends with our hands. Though we’re taught as youngsters to wash them before dinner, it’s important to remember that germs don’t care what time of day it is, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Handwashing Awareness Week provides a great reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs and the coronavirus is also one of the simplest. Let’s examine some handy tips and tricks to keep both your and those around you healthy.
Many germs that make people sick spread when people don’t wash their hands during the appropriate times.
Proactively protect your community by remembering to wash your hands:
- Before, during and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the restroom
- After changing diapers
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After touching an animal
- After touching garbage
During COVID-19, you should also clean hands after touching an item or surface frequently touched by others. That includes door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts or electronic cashier registers. Also, clean your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Washing your hands only goes so far if you’re not doing it properly. When done correctly, it’s the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
Follow these five easy steps every time you wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water
- Lather the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails with soap
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Hum the chorus of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” twice, or even sing it!
- Rinse your hands well with clean, running water, again
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
If soap and water aren’t readily available, hand sanitizer will suffice. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations.
The best way to use hand sanitizer is to:
- Apply the product on the palm of your hand
- Rub your hands together
- Rub the product over all the surfaces of your hand
- Let the product air dry
Parents and caregivers play an important role in teaching children how to be hygienic at a young age. Make hand washing and hand sanitizing a family activity.
Teach kids when hand washing is necessary and the five easy steps to do so. There are ways to make it fun, like making up your own hand washing song or by turning it into a game. The more creative, the better chance your child will make it a habit!
When forming this routine, be sure to:
- Give frequent reminders
- Lead by example by washing your own hands
For more information on hand washing, please visit cdc.gov.