Avoid the Flu – Wash Your Hands!
National Hand-Washing Awareness Week, Dec. 7-13, 2003
Washing your hands is the single most important thing an unvaccinated person can do to avoid getting the flu, says Connie Moore, RN, an infection control specialist at University Medical Center.
She said most people should be washing their hands much more frequently. Hand-washing is especially important:
- Before, during and after you prepare food
- Before you eat
- After you use the bathroom
- After handling animals or animal waste
- After blowing your nose
- More frequently when someone in your home is sick
“Hand-washing helps protect you not just from the common cold and flu, but also from other diseases-- hepatitis A, meningitis and infectious diarrhea,” Moore said. “You can pick up germs from contaminated surfaces and then infect yourself when you touch your face, nose or mouth. You can also spread those germs directly to others or onto surfaces that others touch.”
Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers work well, plain old soap and water is the gold standard in hand-washing, Moore said.
1. First, wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place the bar soap on a rack and allow it to drain.
2. Rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces, including back of hands, wrists, between fingers, under fingernails.
3. Continue for 10 - 15 seconds or about the length of a short tune like the alphabet song. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.
4. Rinse well and dry your hands.
5. Turn off the faucet with paper towel you used to dry your hands. This prevents picking up the germs that were on your hands when you turned the faucet on.
Media: Nurse Moore is happy to demonstrate proper hand-washing technique. She uses “Glo Germ” to show how most people don’t wash their hands correctly. “Germs” that were missed glow under ultra-violet light.