Handle with Care

Washing your hands can keep you from catching a nasty virus. 

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Do you always wash your hands with soap and water…

  1. after going to the bathroom?

  2. after you’ve been outside?

  3. before preparing or eating food?

  4. after petting a dog or cat?

  5. after sneezing or coughing?

  6. after handling money?

  7. after taking out the garbage?

  8. after changing a baby’s diaper?

  9. after blowing your nose?

  10. before treating a cut or wound?

​If you answered “no” to any of the above, you have increased your chances of getting sick. Why? Germs on your hands contribute to your becoming ill. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water reduces your body’s contact with germs.

“Every day you come in contact with all sorts of germs,” says Dr. Larissa Hirsch, a pediatrician at the Nemours Foundation Center for Children’s Health Media. “Some of these germs can make you ill, especially when they enter your body through your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you wash your hands regularly, you will get rid of the germs that you pick up. Then you will not get sick the next time you touch your face.”

It’s important to wash your hands with water and soap; it’s not enough to just rinse your hands under the faucet. Work up a lather on both sides of your hands and between your fingers. Make sure to wash your fingernails too, because germs can hide in your nails.

And wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to accomplish that is to sing or hum “Happy Birthday” two or three times while you’re scrubbing away. Be sure to dry your hands thoroughly.

If all of this information seems to be overkill, think about this: You’re not just ­protecting your own body, you’re protecting the health of your friends, family members, and even people you don’t know. Say you go to the bathroom at school and don’t wash your hands. A few minutes later, you see a friend in the hallway and the two of you exchange knocks over your game-winning shot in gym class. Without realizing it, you’ve just passed on your bathroom germs to your pal.

 

[Sidebar] Survey Says

  • 91% of adults say they wash their hands after using a public restroom

  • 83% of adults say they wash their hands after using the bathroom at home

  • 77% of adults say they wash their hands before touching food

  • 42% of adults say they wash their hands after petting a dog or cat

  • 32% of adults say they wash their hands after coughing or sneezing

 

Source: American Society for Microbiology.

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