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Good Hand Washing Really Does Make a Difference!

Washing your hands and washing them well is a great way to help stop the spread of disease, especially the flu this coming winter.  It is recommended good hand washing, along with eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough rest, will help stop the spread of the flu.

The following facts from the Iowa Department of Public Health help explain the best way of washing your hands and the benefits.

  • Use soap and warm or hot running water.
  • Take at least 15 to 20 seconds to do the washing.
  • Wash all surfaces using a vigorous rubbing (friction) including: wrists, palms, back of hands, between fingers and as much as possible under the fingernails.
  • Rinse under running water.
  • Away from home, dry using disposable paper towels or the hot air blower if possible.
  • At home, provide a separate towel for each member of the household, and wash towels regularly in hot water and detergent.

“Hand hygiene is the single most important thing all healthcare professionals, family members, and patients can do to keep everyone safe and prevent the spread of infections,” stated Miranda Bieber, RN, Infection Prevention Coordinator.  “Here at Veterans Memorial Hospital, we have an infection prevention and control team that has a representative from each department who shares information and educational opportunities with their co-workers. This way, we all can work together to share the responsibility and stress the important role each person has in infection prevention hospital wide.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health says that hand washing is important because the skin constantly makes oil that stays on its surface.  The germs that get on the skin get trapped in the oil.  The skin does not have to look dirty to be loaded with tiny germs that can cause big problems, like the common cold, diarrhea and more serious diseases.  Washing hands with soap and warm running water is one of the best things anyone can do to stay healthy.

To do the most good, washing hands has to become a habit.  Washing hands is especially important before you:

  • Eat
  • Prepare food for self or others
  • Treat a break or cut in the skin
  • Care for an ill or injured person or animal
  • Insert or remove contact lenses

Wash hands immediately after you:

  • Use the restroom
  • Handle uncooked foods (especially raw meat, poultry or fish)
  • Change a diaper
  • Blow your nose, sneeze or cough
  • Touch an animal (especially a reptile), including animals in petting zoos
  • Handle garbage
  • Care for an ill/injured person or animal
  • Tour the livestock barns at the fair.

Whenever you’ve been touching things many people have handled, routine hand washing can help reduce your chances of getting an infection.  Just one squirt of hand sanitizer is also very effective. When rubbed on the hands it quickly evaporates, while killing disease-spreading germs.

For more information on good hand washing, please contact Miranda Bieber, RN, Infection Prevention Coordinator, at Veterans Memorial Hospital at 568-3411.