The importance of handwashing is beyond description considering the present epidemic situation. Handwashing is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your family away from getting sick. Hands are the primary carriers of dirt, viruses, and bacteria as they come into contact with so many different surfaces throughout the day. Without proper hand washing, this could easily lead to something harmful entering the body, spreading elsewhere, or causing cross-contamination.
Experts are time and again saying that washing your hands properly can prevent the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus and keep you safe.
When you should wash your hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones by washing your hands often. Here is a list of the times when you should wash your hands:
• Before and after preparing food
• Before eating food
• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• After using the toilet
• After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
• After handling pet food
• After touching garbage
How to wash your hands properly
• Wet your hands with clean, running water.
• Apply soap or handwash well for 20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained).
• Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
• Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
• If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as microorganisms can exist under them.
• Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed.
• Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
• It is best to use paper towels (or single-use cloth towel).
• Dry under any rings, as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist.
• If your taps have a push and release or automatic feature, use this as instructed. If not, you should use a disposable paper towel to turn off the tap.
Use of hand sanitizer
You can use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. However, washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can check if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. As coronovirus is spreading rapidly, it is better if we become cautious and maintain personal hygiene.
(The writer is a PR professional, currently working in an international development organization.)