“Don’t forget to wash your hands….with soap!” We’ve all heard this, most likely from our parents. As much as we may not want to admit, our parents were right! Hand washing is necessary for our health, especially during the winter months. It is the most important (and easiest) way to prevent illness (USDA).

We touch everything, sometimes without even noticing it. Hand washing, especially before and after specific activities such as preparing food and using the restroom, is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine (CDC). Millions of invisible germs are spread via hand to mouth or person to person contact. Germs can also contaminate food and drink. Under the right circumstances, germs can multiply, causing illness.

There are some simple ways to help prevent the spread of germs, especially during the winter months. Avoid putting your hands on your face and in your mouth, nose, and eyes. Wash your hands regularly, following the guidelines listed below.

Did You Know?

  • Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
  • Hand washing education in the community reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%.
  • Hand washing with soap could protect almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.

Tips for Hand Washing

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Check out the CDC for more facts and tips for hand washing.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Department of Health and Human Services. LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.