Wash your hands

Johnson City Press • Feb 1, 2020 at 10:04 AM

The simplest way to protect yourself from the flu, coronavirus, stomach bugs and most other common germs that can make you feel ill is right in front of your face.

Wash your hands.

Over the course of a day, we touch door handles, money, toilet flushers, touch screens and other communal surfaces covered in creepy crawlies. Then, without realizing it, most of us touch our eyes, noses or mouths, spreading that shared filth to our vulnerable mucous membranes.

One medical study found only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using the bathroom. The rest of you are just gross.

In non-scientific reporting by media outlet Vice, some people said they didn’t wash up after visiting the facilities because they didn’t think they came into contact with urine or feces. Others said people only wash their hands because of societal pressures.

Neither are true. Particles from the toilet can be spread all over the bathroom from just flushing, and studies have shown adequate hand washing reduces more than a dozen illness-causing viruses and bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing in a number of cases, including before, during and after preparing food and before eating, after using the toilet, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

For optimum effectiveness, you should wet your hands with clean, running water, lather all over with soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse, then dry using a clean towel or air.

In a pinch, you can use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, although sanitizers don’t kill all types of germs and may not be as effective on dirty or greasy hands.

Here in the midst of cold and flu season, regular hand washing can keep you and your family from getting sick, and it can protect the most vulnerable among us, like young children and the elderly, for whom these illnesses can be deadly. It can also prevent lost hours and productivity at work and school.

If you value your health and the health of your children and co-workers, take this ounce of soapy prevention to save pounds of unpleasant cure.

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