The importance of hand washing to your health is being highlighted today during Stop! Clean Your Hands Day.
May 5 of each year is Stop! Clean Your Hands Day, with health officials taking the time to point out that while your hands may appear clean, they in fact carry many germs and pathogens. Washing your hands correctly with soap and warm water virtually eradicates the spreading of germs.
Hand hygiene, when performed property, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and infections. Proper hand hygiene helps keep you healthy and prevents the spreading of germs to others.
In healthcare, hand hygiene is used to eliminate transient germs that have been picked up via contact with patients, contaminated equipment, or the environment. Healthcare associated infections affect more than 220,000 people in Canada every year and are estimated to kill between 8,000 and 12,000 Canadians.
Robin Howden, the Cypress Health Region’s Infection Control Practitioner, further explains the importance of hand hygiene.
“Nearly 50 percent of deaths caused by healthcare associated infections could be prevented by the use of proper hand hygiene techniques. Handwashing is important for everyone in all environments, including healthcare professionals,” she noted.
“Handwashing is often abbreviated to save time or is overlooked completely. This has negative impacts on the health of everyone. We encourage individuals to be diligent with their personal hand hygiene.”
Although hand washing may seem like a simple task it is often overlooked. Hand hygiene may be performed by using soap and running water or with alcohol-based hand rubs.
To properly wash your hands with soap and warm water follow these crucial steps:
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are useful when soap and water are not available or if your hands are not visibly soiled.
• Remove any hand/arm jewellery you are wearing and wet hands with warm water.
• Add soap and rub your hands together, ensuring you have lathered all surfaces for at least 15 seconds. How long is 15 seconds? The length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
• Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
• Rinse your hands well under warm running water, using a rubbing motion.
• Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel.
• Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands.
Remember, your safety is in your hands – wash them!