The most effective weapon in the fight against the flu (or any illness/disease) is vaccination, the second is good handwashing. Science has proved time and time again that handwashing is the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to stay healthy; soap has been coined the DIY vaccine. The best way to wash your hands is with soap and water, however, when that is not available, then hand sanitizer is the next best option.
Below are some resources on when handwashing should take place and some interesting facts:
|Eating food||Going to the bathroom|
|Touching a wound||Changing a diaper|
|Taking care of a sick person||Taking care of a sick person|
|Making food||Making food|
|Holding a newborn||Sneezing, coughing or blowing nose|
|Putting in/taking out contacts||Petting your pets|
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Fun (or Disgusting) Facts on Handwashing:
- 80% of communicable diseases are spread by touch.
- Studies show that only 1 in 5 people wash their hands, and those that do only 30% of them use soap.
- Only 5% of people correctly wash their hands.
- 7% of women and 15% of men wash their hands after going to the bathroom.
- Each time a healthcare worker fails to wash or sanitize their hands, it costs a hospital $1.98 per missed opportunity, or about $1.7 million/year for a 200 bed hospital.
- 78,000-90,000 people die yearly from hospital-acquired illnesses, many of them directly linked to poor hand hygiene.
- Research in London estimates that if everyone washed their hands regularly, about 1 MILLION deaths per year could be prevented.
- Cloth towels that are dirty harbor millions of bacteria (i.e.- hand towels in bathroom that are not regularly washed).
- The area around sinks in public bathrooms is 90% covered in bacterias like e-coli and staph.
- MRSA bacteria spreads largely through poor hand washing habits.
- Damp hands are 1,000x more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands.
- Hand sanitizers should have 60% or more alcohol content to be effective.Hand sanitizers are not as effective as soap and water if hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
- Hand sanitizers do not kill ALL germs and they might not remove harmful chemicals.