Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infections. It is important for us to take effective measures, especially after we come in contact with or use public utilities such as public phones, public toilets, office coffee cups etc. In addition to the dirt, the creases of our warm and moist palms could well be the perfect haven for germs and diseases. Having said this, it just takes a few easy steps to ensure the removal of the grime and the germs.
A proper hand washing requires 3 basic elements: soap, water and friction. Even though warm water is ideal for hand washing, normal water can do wonders if we are mindful. Warm water kills the germs and removes dirt in less time.
It’s preferable to use mild soaps containing moisturizer, unless someone in the family is ill, when it’s better to use anti bacterial soaps to wash our hands. Using soap dispensers instead of bars makes things easier and safer. Germs from other people's hands could cling to the soap bar and we could get an infection, just like that! So, it's better to squirt liquid soap anytime.
Bacteria cling to metal objects like rings and bracelets. It’s safer to remove all the jewelry from our hands, if we need a thorough hand wash, and also to wash the jewelry separately and wear them after drying them well.
After rinsing, we should dry our hands. Paper towels are better than cloth ones if we are outside our house. Use a disposable paper towel to turn off the tap, then wipe your hands dry with another fresh paper towel.
Children are more susceptible to infections, and we need to ensure the cleanliness of their toys, and other items, with disinfectant every once in a while. The toys and other items at play groups, day care centers, schools along with door knobs and taps at other public places- These are potentially the hub of germs and diseases. Children, along with sharing the toys, games, food - share the germs as well. We need to train the children and make them understand. To do that, we need to practice good hygiene ourselves and set an example.
It is very important for children to develop proper hygiene right from toddler stage, and the parents and the teachers have to take the initiative. The kids find it very monotonous and dull to wash hands every time before eating. So, the objective should be to make it interesting, easy and fun. For example, asking the children to wash their hands vigorously as they repeat the alphabet slowly would make it a game.
Initially, adult vigilance would enable them to learn the proper way of hand washing. The children miss the corners, nails, backs and the sides. Washing our hands with them would motivate them to do better. Rinsing thoroughly under the force of fresh water is also very important. Dirt and germs are carried away by the water force. Having said this, don’t overdo it. A little bit of exposure is actually good for children to develop a robust immune system.
Practicing hand hygiene will go a long way in keeping you and your family healthy.