Wash’em Up!

By: Nikki Nies

Have you washed your hands today?  This concept is simple, but undervalued.  A lot of diseases, infections, illnesses could be alleviated or lessened if one washed their hands.  The act of hand washing is particularly critical in the food industry with mass production providing increased susceptibility of food borne illnesses, contamination and illness.
Understanding and utilizing the basics of hand washing can prevent such issues and is a great habit to reignite at any age and can dramatically save lives.
The basics:
When to wash hands:

Original Image by Sean Winters via Flickr
Original Image by Sean Winters via Flickr
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who’s sick
  • Before and after treating a wound
  • Before and after handling contact lenses
  • After handling anything that could be contaminated, such as household and garden chemicals
  • After using the restrooms
  • After changing diapers
  • After cleaning up a child who’s used toilet
  • After bowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After handling garbage
  • After handling pet food and pet treats
  • After handling animals or animal waste
How to Wash Hands
Great tips:  Twenty seconds can sound agonizing, but if you sing the “Happy birthday” song twice while thoroughly washing hands, it’s a great  marker of how long to wash hands as well as make the hand washing as thorough as possible.
Also, if clean water’s not available, a 60% alcohol based sanitizer can work well too.  However, one should recognize that hand washing is the best practice when possible.
When using sanitizer:
  1. Apply sanitizer to palm of hand
  2. Rub hands together
  3. Rub sanitizer over hands, fingers and nails until dry
I taught a lesson on handwashing to kids at Lincoln Elementary School in NJ and it was great to see the kids get so excited and involved in the lesson.  By showing them first hand the amount of dirt and bacteria that remained on their hands even when  they had washed their hands really hit home.  Their favorite part was playing an interactive game on hand washing from http://www.scrubclub.org/home.aspx.
This website provides interactive characters that explain how to wash one’s hands with a user friendly website.  Giving children the tools they need to successfully wash their hands, such as knowing how, for how long, during what instances and/or the significance in everyday life can make a positive impact on their lives.  When in doubt, wash’em.

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