The most important thing that you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands.
By frequently washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, or from contaminated surfaces, or from animals and animal waste.
What happens if you do not wash your hands frequently?
You pick up germs from other sources and then you infect yourself when you
- Touch your eyes
- Or your nose
- Or your mouth.
One of the most common ways people catch colds is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus.
You can also spread germs directly to others or onto surfaces that other people touch. And before you know it, everybody around you is getting sick.
The important thing to remember is that, in addition to colds, some pretty serious diseases — like hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea — can easily be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands.
When should you wash your hands?
You should wash your hands often. Probably more often than you do now because you can't see germs with the naked eye or smell them, so you do not really know where they are hiding.
It is especially important to wash your hands
- Before, during, and after you prepare food
- Before you eat, and after you use the bathroom
- After handling animals or animal waste
- When your hands are dirty, and
- More frequently when someone in your home is sick.
What is the correct way to wash your hands?
- First wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place the bar soap on a rack and allow it to drain.
- Next rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces.
- Continue for 10 – 15 seconds or about the length of a little tune. It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs.
- Rinse well and dry your hands.
National Center for Infectious Diseases