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How to Prevent Just About Everything

11-29-2017

“Wash your hands!”

You may hear your mother’s voice echoing in your head, but according to Covenant Health infection prevention educator Lacey Kovar, it really is the best way to prevent the spread of many diseases and illnesses.

It is important to practice good hand hygiene because it prevents people from getting ill by being exposed to different germs. Some illnesses going around right now include the flu, and gastrointestinal bugs – some call stomach flu – that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

When should you wash?
Make sure to wash your hands to protect yourself and others when:

  • After coughing or sneezing
  • After shaking hands with people
  • After using the bathroom
  • After changing a diaper
  • Before eating
  • When preparing food, especially when dealing with raw meat or produce

Soap vs. hand sanitizer: what’s better?
In short, choose soap when your hands are visibly soiled (actual dirt or debris). Soap and water washes off the germs, and may be more effective at inactivating certain kinds of germs. Hand sanitizer, on the other hand, kills most germs. However, people may not use a large enough volume or may wipe it off before the sanitizer has dried. If using sanitizer, make sure to use one with 60-95 percent alcohol concentration.

Step-by-step: handwashing instructions.
It might seem elementary, but make sure you wash your hands properly:

  • Use hot water if available.
  • Rub hands together and to good friction.
  • Rub in between your fingers, around your wrists, fingernails, finger tips, the backs of your hands.
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds – sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Parents should supervise children to ensure proper techniques (yes, go in with them and show them the correct process).
  • Beware of the dirtiest places: door knobs, keyboards, cell phones and kitchen tools.
This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please seek medical advice from your physician for any related medical condition. If you are in need of a primary care doctor, click here to find one in the Covenant Health network.

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