Countless bacteria and viruses are spread through direct person to person contact (a handshake, for example) or contaminated objects or surfaces (phone, door knob, tap, etc.). Colds and the flu are examples of two microorganisms that can be picked up on our hands.
Handwashing eliminates microorganisms found on hands and wrists, therefore preventing the spread of germs and reducing the risk of infection.
When to wash one's hands is somewhat of a judgement call. When hands are visibly soiled, washing is crucial. It must however, be done before and after certain everyday tasks. If you visit persons who are sick or hospitalized, it is important that you wash your hands before and after your visit. Here are other examples of situations where handwashing is fundamental:
- Preparing, eating, handling or serving food.
- Having used the washroom
- Having administered care or had contact with an infected person or after having touched any of their belongings
- Having blown your nose or after having coughed or sneezed into your hands
- Having eaten, drank or smoked
The procedure for proper handwashing begins with the removal of watches and jewelry and consist of the following 6 steps:
- To help children wash long enough, encourage them to sing a song. They should scrub their hands for the duration of the song (20 seconds). This will also make handwashing more fun and much more effective.
- When someone is sick, it is important to disinfect their surroundings with a Javel-water solution (1 part Javel water for 9 parts water). Bedding and clothing should also be washed with regular detergent.
- To prevent the spread of germs, keep hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose.
- Cover cuts at all times as they are very vulnerable to infection.
- The use of gloves is not a substitute for handwashing. In fact, it is recommended that you wash your hands after removing your gloves.