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One effective way of doing so is to wash our hands as regularly as possible, and ensure that those around us also do the same

The Coronavirus pandemic has continued to take its toll on South Africa. While our health personnel and first responders are making an effort to make the situation better for everyone, we must continue to play our part to stop the spread.

One effective way of doing so is to wash our hands as regularly as possible, and ensure that those around us also do the same.
But what are the benefits of handwashing, and how do we do it effectively?

Let us look at the Whys and Hows:

Why Hand Washing Matters
Hand hygiene is highly encouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO) to avoid the transmission of harmful germs and prevent the spread of respiratory infections.Research shows that handwashing lowers the rates of certain respiratory and gastrointestinal infections by up to 23 and 48 percent, respectively.You can get or spread germs to other people or surfaces when you:

Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands.
Touch a contaminated surface or objects.
Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands.

Important Times To Wash Your Hands

To keep yourself and others close to you germ-free, wash your hands often, especially:
Before, during, and after food preparation
Before and after eating
Before, during, and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhoea
Before and after treating a cut or wound
After using the toilet
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After handling pet food or pet treats
After touching garbage

What’s The Best Way To Wash Your Hands?

Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another. Follow these seven steps every time.
Wet your hands with clean running water.
Apply enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands and wrists.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Use a paper towel to turn off the tap.

Using Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitisers
If soap and water are not readily available, a hand sanitiser with an alcohol content of at least 70% can be effective, according to the WHO.
While hand sanitisers work well in removing some germs, they are not as effective as soap and water when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitisers can also cause alcohol poisoning. Children are particularly likely to swallow hand sanitisers that are scented, attractively packages or brightly coloured.
Prevent alcohol poisoning by storing hand sanitisers away from the reach of children. Where possible, purchase hand sanitisers with child-resistant caps and supervise kids during use.

Sources:
https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html
https://www.fevermates.com/blogs/news/why-is-washing-your-hands-so-important
https://health-e.org.za/2020/06/08/hand-sanitisers-supplement-good-handwashing-hygiene/

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