Everyone’s aware of the deadliness of Ebola and the extreme measures it requires to prevent the spread of the virus. While we shiver at the thought of that particular disease, there are countless harmful and other deadly bacteria, viruses and germs all around us.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented. From doorknobs to animals to food, harmful germs can live on almost everything.
Most people in this country are pretty consistent with hand washing, but are you really as consistent as you assume?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides some important guidelines in “how” to wash your hands the right way to prevent germ sharing and infections.
Here are the 5 steps to washing your hands the right way:
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. (Don’t collect water in the sink as this could re-transfer germs).
2. 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.
3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
A few other notations – Source CDC.gov
The poop connection
Feces (poop) from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus that cause diarrhea, and it can spread some respiratory infections like adenovirus and hand-foot-mouth disease.
These kinds of germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them.
A single gram of human feces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs. Germs can also get onto hands if people touch any object that has germs on it because someone coughed or sneezed on it or was touched by some other contaminated object. When these germs get onto hands and are not washed off, they can be passed from person to person and make people sick.
Hand Sanitizers – an alternative but not as good
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.