NEW CITY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents during National Handwashing Awareness Week, Dec. 3 – 9, that regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
“This message is especially important now, as flu season has begun. Though the single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get the flu vaccine each year, washing your hands often will help protect you from getting and spreading germs, and can cut your flu risk in half,” said Dr. Ruppert.
When should you wash your hands?
- Before, during, and after preparing food, and before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick, and before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet, and after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal or animal waste, and after touching garbage
What is the right way to wash your hands? Follow these five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry:
- Wet your hands with clean, warm, running water and apply soap.
- Lather: Rub your hands together to make a lather.
- Scrub your hands well for at least 20 seconds; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Rinse your hands well under running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel. In public restrooms, shut the faucet off with the paper towel and exit the door using the paper towel on the handle. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that you avoid high-speed jet air dryers in public restrooms. Research shows that they spread, rather than remove, germs. The same is true to a lesser extent for warm air dryers.
Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub for 15 seconds and follow label instructions.
Caution: swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning. Keep it out of the reach of young children and only use with adult supervision.
For more information about handwashing and disease prevention, visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website at www.cdc.gov/handwashing/.