How Proper Hand-Washing Can Save Your Life

Ajibola Abdulkadir August 05, 2014

Hand Washing

As ridiculously simple as this topic sounds, you’d be amazed at how many people think they’ve washed their hands clean yet are still harboring and spreading deadly germs. In all kinds of environments – your home, school, work place, hospitals, child care centres, e.t.c. — frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. It is so easy to do and costs next to nothing, especially considering this time of the dreadful Ebola outbreak. Here, Face2Face Africa will take you through the simple steps of when and how to wash your hands properly and what to do if you do not have water at hand.

SEE ALSO: HEALTH ALERT: Ebola Spreads to Nigeria

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When To Wash Your Hands

During the day, you touch all sorts of things: people, objects, and surfaces. By doing this, you unconsciously accumulate germs on your hands. Consequently, you can infect other people and even yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. It is quite impossible to keep your hands 100 percent germ-free, but washing your hands frequently can help to limit the transfer of infection-causing organisms. In addition to washing your hands whenever they look dirty, always wash your hands at the following times:

• First thing when you get home after a day out
• Before, during, and after preparing food or eating
• After handling foods, such as raw meat, poultry, or fish
• Before and after treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
• Before inserting or removing your contact lenses
• After using the toilet or changing a diaper/nappy
• After touching an animal/pet or animal toys, leashes, or waste
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing in to your hands
• After handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — e.g. cleaning cloths, rags, or soiled work shoes and boots
• After handling or touching people or objects for which you can’t ascertain their cleanliness

The Proper Way To Wash Your Hands

It’s generally best to wash your hands with soap and water. Follow these simple steps for cleaner hands:

• Wet your hands with running water.
• Apply soap – liquid, bar, or powder soap. Liquid soap from a soap dispenser is advisable for toilets and public places to limit the transfer of germs from different people handling the same bar soap.
• Lather very well.
• Rub and scrub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Remember to scrub all surfaces: the backs of your hands, your palms and wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
• Rinse well.
• Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air (heat) dryer. Disposable paper towels are a cheap and advisable alternative to air dryers as they limit repeated use and transfer of germs as well.
• If possible, use your disposable towel to turn off the tap/faucet.

Keep in mind that antibacterial soap and hand washes have been proven to offer no more efficacy at killing germs than regular soap. As a matter of fact, using antibacterial soaps can lead the common bacteria in your environment to develop resistance to soaps, making them harder to kill subsequently.

What You Should Do If You Don’t Have Water, Soap On Hand

While we agree that washing our hands with soap and water is the best way to go about clean hands, we can’t always be in environments where water and soap are available for use. In these instances, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol. They are also affordable, portable, and help to quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in many situations.

Please note that hand sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs and will not be as effective when your hands are visibly soiled.

How To Use Hand Sanitizers

– Apply enough of the product to the palm of one hand; some of them come with amount specifications. Read the label for this information.
– Rub your hands together, covering all the surfaces and fingers.
– Rub until the product dries up.

Again, please remember that if your hands are visibly soiled, wash them with soap and water.

There you have it – hand-washing in all its simplicity! It doesn’t take much time, it is so effortless, you can do it in your sleep, and it amazingly plays a great role in protecting your health and preventing sickness. Protect your families as well by teaching your children how to wash their hands and let them imbibe the habit.

Stay healthy, folks!

SEE ALSO: Ladies, Do You Have a Bad Odor ‘Down There’?

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: August 5, 2014


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