Health starts with your hands

Take the time to wash your hands throughout the day to help prevent illnesses.

In the fight against germs, we each have ten secret weapons: our fingers. Keeping your fingers and hands clean through frequent and proper hand washing can be a key to reducing your risk of becoming sick. Keeping your own hands clean is also a way to reduce the chances that others will become ill.

By frequently washing your hands, the risk presented by bacteria, germs and viruses can be greatly reduced. Hand washing can also be a defense against the cold and influenza. These can be picked up from other people, touching contaminated surfaces, animals or bodily waste. By not washing these germs from your hands, you can become infected by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching other objects without washing first increases the risk that others will become ill.

Hand sanitizer, while sometimes more convenient than soap and water, may not eliminate all of the germs that could be hiding in your skin. While effective in reducing some bacteria’s pathogens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that hand washing with soap and water do the best job of removing food-borne pathogens and other bad bugs that can lead to illness.

Take extra precaution when using public restrooms. To properly wash your hands, tear off a section of paper towel for turning off the faucet when you are done washing – this prevents re-contaminating your hands when re-touching the faucet.

Wash hands with water and soap for 20 seconds. Wash between the fingers, under nails and in any crevices where bacteria or germs might hide. Dry hands with a paper towel and use a paper towel when re-touching the bathroom door handle to exit.

It is important to wash your hands  

  • Before eating and during and after handling food
  • After handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, seafood or their juices
  • After using the bathroom or changing diapers
  • After sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing
  • After touching a cut or open sore
  • After touching garbage
  • And especially for children, after playing outside with pets or shared toys

For more information on the importance of hand washing visit Foodsafety.gov. The site contains a video showing proper cleaning techniques not only for hands but other surfaces in your kitchen.

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