The How (and Why) to Clean Hands

January 5th, 2018

If you doubt the importance of hand-washing, consider how often people touch their eyes, nose or mouth and also touch contaminated surfaces. National Institutes of Health research on the subject says people touch their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour, usually without realizing they did, and touch common objects almost as often, 3.3 times per hour.

After getting a flu shot, preventive measures such as hand-washing (and not touching your face) are considered the best way to avoid the flu and other illnesses this season.

Researchers have found most people wash their hands incorrectly. So let’s review. Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

Friday Flu Update

The number of patients testing positive for the flu so far this month at John Peter Smith Hospital (emergency room, urgent care and inpatient units) rose to 103, up from 76 the previous day.

Total positive flu tests at the hospital from August through Friday rose to 674, including December’s surge of 408.

JPS Health Network’s community and school-based clinics in Tarrant County saw 65,536 flu-related patient visits between October 1 and December 31, including healthy people seeking flu shots and people with flu or flu-like symptoms.

Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Don’t have a stop-watch? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

The World Health Organization adds one additional step — using a towel to turn off the water, protecting your clean hands from germs others might have left behind on the faucet.

If using a hand sanitizer, instead, be sure to pick one that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.

Public health experts are predicting a surge in flu cases in the coming weeks as children return to school after holiday break. JPS School Based Health Centers offered some tips to help keep them well.

Remind kids not to share school supplies, electronic devices or other items that might be contaminated, said Christie Ramirez, a Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the JPS Western Hills School-Based Health Center.

“The biggest thing is making sure your kids are eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep,” Ramirez said.

If kids do get sick, don’t send them back to school until they’ve been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours.

Remind kids to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze into their sleeve (not their hands) and avoid touching their face.

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