Healthy tips for healthy hands

It’s time to talk hand hygiene. What’s hand hygiene, you ask? Well, it refers to things you can do — like washing your hands and using hand sanitizer — to keep your hands clean and protect your health.

While hand-washing is important all the time, you should especially wash your hands more often during cold and flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests other important times to wash your hands:
  • Before, during and after you prepare food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage
Some people should wash their hands more frequently. People who get sick more easily, such as seniors or people with weakened immune systems, should clean their hands more often. Children should, too. They like to get close to each other when they play, share toys and often put their hands and other objects in their mouths.
It’s important to teach kids to wash their hands and help make it fun. Choose a song your children like, time how long 20 seconds takes and let them sing the song for that amount of time while they wash their hands.
So, what is the right way to wash your hands?
  • First, wet them with clean water.
  • Apply and spread soap over all parts of your hands.
  • Rub your soapy hands together for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse and dry well.
If you can’t wash your hands with water, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. Apply and spread the sanitizer to all parts of your hands and rub your hands together until they are dry.

Be sure to visit the Get Ready campaign’s hand-washing page for great information and materials on hand-washing. Everything on our website can be downloaded free.

The World Health Organization says that, globally, “simple hand-washing could save up to 1 million lives each year.” That’s a very serious number. However, the important thing to remember is that hand-washing is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.

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