When in a hurry, we've all been guilty of doing the "splash and dash" - shoving our hands under the tap for a couple of seconds after using the loo rather than taking the time to wash them properly. Because germs are invisible and your hands may look perfectly clean, it's easy to think they're hygienic too, when in fact the average person is carrying 2 to 10 million bacteria between their fingertip and elbow! These germs can become the cause of illnesses such as colds, flu and tummy bugs, as well as more serious complaints. Thanks to the plumbing industry, we all have access to safe, hygienic water in our homes, so there's really no excuse not to practice proper hand washing - one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your health and that of those around you! Washing your hands is particularly important before:
•Preparing or eating food
•Treating a cut or wound
•Visiting a hospital ward
You should also be sure to wash your hands after doing the following activities:
•Using the bathroom
•Handling uncooked meats (especially raw meat, poultry or fish)
•Blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing
•Changing children's nappies
It actually takes at least 15 seconds to wash your hands properly - about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday or Row, Row, Row Your Boat twice through! Following the below procedure when you next wash your hands will ensure that all areas of your fingers, palms and the backs of your hands are thoroughly clean and hygienic:
•Run your hands under the tap to get them wet.
•Apply 1-2 pumps of handwash or enough soap to cover the entire surface of your hands.
•Rub your palms together vigorously.
•Wash the backs of your hands by putting your right hand over the other palm with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
•Next interlace fingers with palm-to-palm.
•With your left thumb clasped in the right palm and vice versa, rub rotationally.
•Then do rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa.
•Rinse hands off with water and dry thoroughly with a towel. (Remember that wet hands spread bacteria more easily).
The whole procedure should take at least 15 seconds! For situations such as picnics and festivals where you may find yourself without access to soap and water, hand sanitizer can quickly reduce the number of germs but does not eliminate all types of germs. As Professor John Oxford of London University observes, handwashing is the best way to avoid colds, flu and other viruses, so the next time you visit the bathroom or are about to prepare a meal, don't be tempted to do a "splash and dash"! It may just cost you your health.