Like so many other times in your life, your mother was right when she told you to wash your hands. Most children reach adulthood without having encountered lots of serious illnesses. And the reason for this why may revolve around parents’ insistence that their children wash their hands.
Because Mountains Community Hospital cares about you and your family’s health, we advise parents to teach kids how to wash their hands when they’re young. Demonstrating proper hand-washing techniques is an easy way to model responsible behavior. Children who attend preschool or other childcare facilities are particularly at risk for catching and/or spreading disease. So teaching them how to wash their hands is vital to safeguarding their health.
Unfortunately, many adults have forgotten those lessons and don’t wash their hands often enough or thoroughly. Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick as well as spreading illnesses. Generally speaking, people are unaware how many thousands of items they touch each day, often to the detriment of good health.
We advise everyone to wash their hands before preparing food, eating, treating wounds or administering medicine to themselves or anyone else, touching a sick or injured person and before inserting or removing contact lenses. One of the main reasons people get eye infections is because they touch their eyes with unwashed hands.
So be careful to wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially while preparing food. This is particularly important when handling raw meat or poultry, after using the toilet, changing a baby’s diaper, cleaning up Fido or Fifi’s waste and toys, coughing or sneezing into hands, handling garbage or anything that could be contaminated.
While hand sanitizers are good, especially when soap and water isn’t available, they will not remove as many germs as plain old soap and water. How you wash your hands is as important as how often you wash them. And, in many cases, it may be even more important. Be sure to lather well with soap and rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. If you or your children need a reminder about how long 20 seconds is, try humming the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Don’t forget that your wrists and the top and underside of the fingernails are where germs may hide. So be sure to rinse your hands well under running water. The old saying, “better safe than sorry” certainly applies to keeping your hands clean.