Resisting The Omnipresent Onslaught
Visual reminders that reinforce the significance of hygienically clean hands can help us all maintain good health and avoid the consequences.
We all know that rogue germs and bacteria can overpower our immune systems and lead to ailments of all sorts — from curable conditions and permanent maladies to pronounceable syndromes and tongue-twisting viruses.
Another notion of near certain familiarity is that frequent handwashing and, in broader terms, practicing proper hand hygiene is the number one way to resist the barrage of pathogens whose evolutionary goal is to leach off of a host who inevitably falls ill and inadvertently spreads the contagion as it replicates within his or her body.
We are taught from a very young age that clean hands are important; as children, we are instructed to wash them before eating, after visiting the restroom, following contact with sick individuals and any time they appear dirty.
According to research conducted by members of SCA Tissue’s Tork Green Hygiene Council (TGHC), the average American comes into contact with more than 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing him or herself to some 840,000 germs*.
And, as discovered by a recent survey from Cintas Corporation, roughly 84 percent of the American workforce willingly goes to work sick; almost half of those cognizant contributors take no caution to curb the spread of their sickness to their coworkers.
Knowing this, I wonder why so many of us fail to follow the guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), municipal-level and state-run health departments and countless manufacturers, formulators and consultants.
Numerous individuals and organizations — many with different agendas and inspirations — all agree upon the vitality of clean, germ-free hands.
But, no matter who delivers it, and despite the vehicle chosen to drive it home, the message never seems to truly sink in with the masses.
What’s worse, practicing proper hand hygiene is quick, easy and inexpensive — especially when you factor in the lost productivity and healthcare costs associated with being sick.
Cough Free Stuff Cough
So, to ensure that you, your workers and the whole kit and caboodle that are your building occupants, your customers and your loved ones at home are washing their hands effectively, we are providing a downloadable wall chart that details the steps to proper handwashing and how each is important in personal and collective health and wellbeing.
If you are not a registered member of the CMM Community, you will need to complete the registration form located at CMMOnline.com/user/new.
Don’t worry: There are no fees associated with registration and we promise not to ask for your mother’s maiden name.
*Contacting 300 surfaces every 30 minutes is equivalent to contact with 100 surfaces every 10 minutes or 10 surfaces every minute.
Encountering 840,000 germs from contact with 300 surfaces is equivalent to encountering 280,000 germs for every 100 surfaces or 28,000 germs every surface.
If you are contacting an average of 10 surfaces every minute and encountering roughly 28,000 germs in those 60 seconds, it quickly becomes apparent why frequent handwashing is such an important component of the larger picture that is proper hand hygiene.
For young children especially, who average upwards of 30 acts of hand-to-mouth contact every minute in extreme cases — a rate of about two hand-to-mouth contacts every tick of the clock from surfaces teeming with bacteria rates in the 20,000s — the number of germs encountered can easily exceed the established averages.
- Wet your handswith clean, running water — preferably warm, but cold water will suffice — and apply a quarter-sized amount of soap onto your palm
- Rub your handstogether to produce a rich lather and apply enough pressure to dislodge any heavy soils; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, underneath your fingernails and be mindful that dirt and germs can also reside on your wrist and forearm
- Continue rubbingyour hands together for at least 20 seconds so that all unwanted matter is dislodged and any active ingredients such as antimicrobial additives have time to work; humming the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice is a good timer that people of all ages can relate to and easily understand
- Rinse your handswell under running water — again, warm is preferred, but cold water will do the job — while continuing to rub them together to remove the maximum amount of germs, bacteria, soils and other foreign matter from your skin
- Dry your handsthoroughly using a clean towel or a high-powered air dryer; paper towels are recommended by many because the friction helps remove additional fomites or dead skin cells, while air dryers are heralded for their speed and sustainability.
A Trifecta To Top It Off
Thoroughly and frequently washing hands with soap and warm water is the best way to reduce pathogenic microorganisms and maintain good health.
But, if soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer — the debate is still raging as to whether alcohol-based sanitizers or non-alcohol foaming varieties are more adept at safe sanitization — should be utilized.
Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands, but they do not eliminate all types of germs and are not a failsafe.
Just as disinfectants do not work well on surfaces with gross soiling, instant hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty.
However, when using a hand sanitizer alone is the only option, it is as simple as one, two, three:
- Apply a quarter-sized amount of sanitizer to the palm of one hand — preferably after soils have been removed to the best of your ability
- Rub your hands together to spread the sanitizer; be sure to pay attention to the backs of your hands, between your fingers, underneath your fingernails and be mindful that your wrist and forearm might harbor harmful germs and bacteria
- Continue rubbing your hands, fingers and other cracks and crevices until the sanitizer has evaporated and your hands are dry.
For Those Who Wonder When To Wash
- Before and after preparing or consuming food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or a wound
- After using the restroom
- After encountering human or animal waste
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After touching garbage or refuse
- Whenever they are visibly soiled.