Washing your hands can keep you healthy

Prevent the bacteria

Washing Your Hands Can Keep You Healthy

Germs are everywhere.

You may not want to think about it, but every surface around us is covered with bacteria. Just take a look at some of the numbers.

Here’s a head count of the little critters that may accompany us in our daily lives. A study by the National Sanitation Foundation identified:1

  • 2,700,000 per square inch on drinking water fountain
  • 33,800 per square inch on a cafeteria tray
  • 260 per square inch on a computer keyboard
  • 740 per square inch on ear phones.

The good news is that not all germs are harmful. In fact, most of them are not and some of them even do us a lot of good. But their very existence in such numbers suggests the presence of the ‘bad guys’ as well: viruses and bacteria that can lead to the common cold and flu, or even more serious illnesses such as the food borne E. coli and Salmonella.1

Every year, students in the U.S. miss an estimated 164 million days of school due to illness. That number would be cut in half with proper hand washing alone, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1 It’s not surprising, then, that thorough hand washing is the single best way to prevent illness and the spread of disease.2

Hand washing can prevent infection and illness from spreading between family members and sometimes, throughout a community. The basic rule is to wash hands:2

  • before preparing food
  • after handling uncooked meat and poultry
  • before eating
  • after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one's nose into a tissue
  • after using the bathroom
  • after touching animals or anything in an animal's environment.

Using hand sanitizers to keep hands clean

Another option to keep hands free from harmful germs is the waterless ‘instant’ hand sanitizers. Alcohol based sanitizers act quickly and significantly reduce the number of germs on the skin.2

Whatever your preferred method – plain soap, antibacterial soap or hand sanitizers – the important thing is to wash thoroughly and wash often. Hands down, it’s the best way to keep harmful germs at bay and stay your healthiest.

References

  1. Millions of Germs and Bacteria Await Kids at School. NSF International. Sept 2005. Available at http://www.nsf.org/business/newsroom/press_release.asp?p_id=11321. Accessed September 2010.  
  2. Wash Your Hands. Centers for Disease Control. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandWashing/. Accessed September 2010