To mark World Hand Hygiene Day on Saturday 5 May, the Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is encouraging the public to think again about how they wash their hands.
While washing our hands might seem like second nature, it’s really only effective when done thoroughly and your hands are completely dried afterwards, says WDHB infection prevention and occupational health clinical nurse specialist Jacqueline Pennefather.
“Many disease-causing viruses and bacteria are carried on hands so it’s important the carrier doesn’t pass these on to another person’s hands or onto another person’s objects or food,” Mrs Pennefather says.
“Everyone of us should get into the habit of washing our hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds before drying them – preferably with a paper towel. Twenty seconds is about the same time as it takes us to sing Happy Birthday.
“Effective hand washing and drying routines are a primary means of reducing infections in the community. Both should always be done before and after eating, grooming, or any other activity that involves hand-to-face contact.”
Mrs Pennefather says hand washing and drying should also always be done after coughing, sneezing or handling used tissues or after touching anything that may have been contaminated by someone who is sick.
Other times hand washing is vital include after:
- handling raw meat and poultry
- going to the toilet
- handling pets
- gardening or playing outdoors.
Alcohol-based hand rub or antiseptic handwash can be used and if a member of the household is unwell, using a disposable towel to open and close the bathroom door is helpful.
The WDHB will be sharing handwashing tips on its social media platforms. Search Whanganui DHB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.handhygiene.org.nz.