Monday, February 8, 2010

Stop Germs - Sanitise Your Hands

It is reported that there is likely to be a wave of swine flu again this flu season. Hand hygiene is our first line of defence against many transmissible diseases, including the flu virus. We use our hands to contact objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with micro-organisms of all sorts. I am typing this article on my laptop, and now that I look at it, I see that the keys have a level of natural oils on them and dust has collected between and below the keys. Yuck. I will have to give the keyboard a clean this evening. I know that if I looked at the keys closely enough I would find many bugs, some of which might cause illness. Other surfaces that we regularly touch such as pens, door handles, chairs, steering wheels, coins etc. are also contaminated. They are all regularly contacted by the hands of many people not just your own. Imagine how easily bacteria and virus particles can be passed from one person to another via these surfaces.

Our skin is warm and moist with sweat and oils, providing conditions suitable for growing bacterial colonys. Most of the bacteria on our skin are harmless and even pathogenic bacteria cannot normally penetrate healthy skin to cause infection. But if the skin is cut or broken or we put our hands near our mouth or eyes then bacteria and viruses may find a way to enter our bodies and make us ill.

Wash and Dry Your Hands Regularly

Washing and drying your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel is the single most important measure for preventing the transmission of disease from one person to another. Always wash or use sanitiser after using the lavatory and before eating.

Use the twenty second rule: 20 seconds to wash and 20 seconds to dry.

If available use soap and running water. Vigorously rub soap onto all parts of the each hand for at least 20 seconds. Rub fingers between fingers and rub tips of the fingers against the palms of the opposing hand. Rinse thoroughly in the fresh running water.

Dry your hands. Repeated drying of hands on a single reused cloth towel is not recommended. It is preferable to use disposable paper towels or single use reusable towels and take care to dry all parts of the hand; rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Air towels usually require 45 seconds to dry hands completely.

Hand Sanitisers

If there is visual soiling of the hands full hand hygiene (washing and drying as above) should be performed. The use alcohol-based hand sanitisers, such as NO Germs Hand Sanitiser from Kiwicare, are useful to decontaminate hands if there is no access to hand washing facilities. Hand sanitizers should be seen as an additional hand hygiene step. Hand sanitisers should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective and will kill 99.9% of germs. If there is no visual soiling hand sanitizer can be used indefinitely.

For thorough sanitisation and hygiene of hands:

1. Remove jewellery and apply enough NO Germs to palm to keep hand surfaces moist for at least 20 seconds.
2. Rub palms together.
3. Rub between and around fingers.
4. Cover all surfaces of hands and fingers.
5. Rub thumbs.
6. Rub fingertips of each hand in opposite palm.
7. Continue rubbing until hands are dry.
8. Do not use NO Germs with water and do not dry on paper or cloth towels.

I now keep a pump bottle of NO Germs Hand Sanitiser on the shelf behind my desk. I can swivel around and use it each time I leave and return to my desk. NO Germs contains skin moisturizers and a pleasant fragrance so that I am happy to shake the hand of all those that come to visit me. I know that I am not going to pass on or contract any nasties in the process......... and my soft hands must impress.

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