How clean are your hands?
Today marks the fourth global hand washing day. Started in 2008 its goal is to prevent deaths through cross infection and poor hygiene.
The organization behind this (Global hand washing day) have launched some excellent Posters and other resources to help. Of course, hand washing is for life, not just for hand washing day… but it’s a great focus.
Why is effective hand washing important?
Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments (for example, after using the toilet, while cleaning a child, and before handling food). Hand-washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoea diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of child deaths. Every year, more than 3.5 million children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhoea and pneumonia. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, hand washing with soap is seldom practised and not always easy to promote.
More hand-washing with soap would make a significant contribution to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.
Not just children
In our work places, homes and nursing and care facilities, we are at our greatest risk to basic health from microbes (virus & bacteria) from dirty hands than from almost anything else. When we are ill, stressed or run down, our bodies are less well equipped to protect us against additional “attacks”. Knowing when and how to wash our hands effectively can protect both ourselves and those we love.
Key points to remember about hand hygiene
Washing hands with water alone is not enough
Hand washing with soap can prevent diseases that kill every year
The critical moments for hand washing with soap are
after using the toilet or
touching a person or animal and
before handling food.
Hand-washing with soap is the single most cost-effective health intervention.
Children can be agents of change – we need to change for them and because of them!
If we do not have soap & water available, then the effective use of hand gel can help us maintain personal hygiene. Gel is only effective at reducing the number of bugs/ microbes on our hands – they do not “clean” our hands – only soap & water does that.
Good hand washing technique
Washing our hands is one thing, but doing it effectively is another.
Typically we think we wash our hands well, but research shows that we are not very good at this basic skill.
As the image shows there are parts on our hands we often miss. Thumbs and finger tips, and around the nail beds are common areas missed. In health care and food based environments, training often consists of using UV or blacklight technology to help people see where they have and have not washed.
This brings an element of fun to what can be a dry topic. Even people who believe they wash their hands effectively often find areas they have missed.
Infection control through hand hygiene
All of the following can be transmitted or carried on our hands:
MRSA, E-Coli, C.Difficile,h2N1 bird flu, H1N1, influenza, diarrhoea prevention, Staphylococcus, Rhino-virus, Salmonella, and many others.
So when did you last wash your hands? Because of course, you have not been doing anything nasty… just using your PC…..
Note, the posters that were linked have been removed by the partnership, so a link updated to their current resource pack