As the world celebrates Global Handwashing Day today (15th October), health practitioners say that hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.
You can spread certain “germs” (a general term for microbes like viruses and bacteria) casually by touching another person. You can also catch germs when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then you touch your face (mouth, eyes, and nose).
“Good” hand washing techniques include using an adequate amount of soap, rubbing the hands together to create friction, and rinsing under running water. The use of gloves is not a substitute for hand washing.
When should I wash my hands?
Different situations where people can pick up “germs” include:
- When hands are visibly soiled.
- After using the washroom (includes changing diapers).
- After blowing your nose or after sneezing in your hands.
- Before and after eating, handling food, drinking or smoking.
- After touching raw meat, poultry, or fish.
- After handling garbage.
- Visiting or caring for sick people.
- Handling pets, animals or animal waste.
Ensuring to wash hands properly after using the washroom is very important in reducing disease transmission of stomach “flus” and other gastrointestinal infections.
Using soap and lathering up is also important as rinsing hands in water only is not as effective. Use comfortably warm, running water where possible for comfort.
Hands should be washed for a minimum of 15 seconds – longer if the hands are visibly soiled.
How do I properly wash my hands?
- For effective hand washing, follow these steps:
- Remove any rings or other jewelry.
- Use water and wet your hands thoroughly.
- Use soap (1-3 mL) and lather very well.
- Scrub your hands, between your fingers, wrists, and forearms with soap for 15 seconds.
- Scrub under your nails.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Dry your hands with a single use towel or air dryer.
- Turn off the taps/faucets with a paper towel.
- Protect your hands from touching dirty surfaces as you leave the bathroom.
- Proper hand washing
Other tips include:
- Cover cuts with bandages and wear gloves for added protection (cuts are very vulnerable to infections).
- Artificial nails and chipped nail polish have been associated with an increase in the number of bacteria on the fingernails. Be sure to clean the nails properly.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose or mouth. Assume that contact with any human body fluids is infectious.
- Liquid soap in disposable containers is best. If using reusable containers, they should be washed and dried before refilling.
- If using a bar of soap, be sure to set it on a rack that allows water to drain or use small bars that can be changed frequently.
Global Handwashing Day
Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on October 15 to raise awareness about disease prevention and improve handwashing habits of the people. The aim of Global Handwashing Day is to support and promote the handwashing culture.
The Global Handwashing Day was established in the year 2008. Every year, around 200 million people celebrate the day. This year the theme for the day is ‘Raise a Hand for Hygiene’.
Some interesting facts that you must know:
- The Global Handwashing Day was created at World Water Week in 2008 in Stockholm
- The United Nations General Assembly appointed October 15 as the date in accordance with International Year of Sanitation
- In 2008, Sachin Tendulkar and other Indian cricketers joined 100 million school children and encouraged students for better health and hygiene
- On October 15, 2014, Madhya Pradesh won the Guinness Book of World Record for a massive handwashing programme which involved the participation of about 12,76,425
Facts about body hygiene:
- Around 80 per cent infectious diseases are spread by touch
- The regular habit of washing hands reduces diarrheal deaths by 50 per cent
- If everyone washes their hands routinely, about one million deaths can be prevented
- Washing hands regularly decreases the risk of respiratory infection by 16 per cent
- About 1.8 million children below the age of 5 die each year of pneumonia and diarrheal diseases.