HEALTHY HABITS: WASH YOUR HANDS
‘Tis the season for respiratory illnesses such as RSV, influenza (flu), pneumonia and COVID. Infectious droplets are everywhere in the environment. As a result, to protect yourself and prevent the spread we encourage you to:
- Cover your cough (cough into your elbow)
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wipe down flat surfaces with disinfectant – desks, tables, chairs, counters
Viral infections like the flu, RSV, pneumonia, and the common cold, as well as bacterial infections like strep throat, typically enter our bodies through our eyes, nose, and mouth.
The best and easiest way to protect ourselves from infectious germs, and to keep the people around us healthy is to wash our hands frequently. Thorough handwashing with soap and water can protect you and your family whether at home, at work, traveling, or out in the community.
MINIMIZE FACE TOUCHING
We habitually touch our faces many times an hour and for many reasons. For example, it’s natural to rub our eyes, scratch our noses, adjust our glasses and eat finger foods. If these things are done with unclean hands, we risk getting sick from germs transferred to our hands from things we touch.
Healthy habits of frequent and thorough handwashing as well as not touching your face will help prevent illness. Only touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with clean washed hands.
WHY WASH YOUR HANDS?
When you wash your hands with soap, you get rid of germs. This helps keep people from getting sick because:
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
KEY TIMES TO WASH YOUR HANDS
You can help yourself and your family stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage