Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Do you wash your hands correctly?

Recently my wife & I enjoyed soup sampling at ChowdaFest at a middle school in Westport, CT. In the restroom of this public school I saw sign on how to wash your hands, aimed no doubt for the young students. What struck me about the sign was the length of time to wash, sing the Alphabet song twice, it suggested. That means about 20 seconds of hand washing. This is longer than advice I gave a few years ago, sing the Happy Birthday song twice, for about 10 to 15 seconds of washing.

Today we accept hand washing as good hygiene, but this was not always the case. Before germs were discovered and defeated, bad air or demons were blamed for illness. We know better now and yet we still get hand washing wrong.

Here's the right way to wash according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Wet your hands with running water.
  • Apply soap.
  • Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds.
  • Remember to scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
  • If possible, use your towel to turn off the faucet [and open the bathroom door]
Bottom Line

Always wash your hands after:
  • Preparing food, especially raw meat
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal, animal toys, leashes, or animal waste
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household/garden chemicals, or anything really dirty like soiled shoes
Update: was watching the Tonight Show and guest Tim Allen mentioned handwashing and the Happy Birthday song. Jay responded, with yes, about 21 seconds?

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