May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day
Okay, so we all know it’s important to wash our hands throughout the day, but do you really take hand hygiene that seriously?
According to Judah G, Aunger R, Schmidt WP, Michie S, Granger S, Curtis V., “Despite widespread knowledge of the importance of handwashing, there is still room for improvement. A recent study showed that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.”1
Evidently hand hygiene is a task that even in this day and age many often don’t take too seriously, but if you are put into a position where your baby’s life is at risk if exposed to unclean hands, you do what you’ve got to do to keep your hands clean and child protected.
It is proven that proper hand hygiene goes a long way to keep germs and illness at bay and reduces health care associated infection (think MRSA, pseudomonas aeruginosa, C.diff) in places like hospitals, but until you’ve had to “scrub in” at the sink basins just outside your baby’s NICU bedroom or pod, you may not consider the appropriate steps to take to wash your hands.
During childhood we learn the main reasons to wash our hands and the basic steps to complete the task. Common and ingrained reasons to wash hands include after using the washroom or if we get our hands soiled or sticky during play time or while busy working with our hands. Many people are at risk for picking up germs when we don’t wash our hands before or after a meal, when we’ve been interacting with many children, such as in a play group or a day care setting. It is hard to keep track of what surfaces you touched and you never can tell which illnesses or infections people may be carrying with them and where they’ve placed their own hands.
According to the CDC, these are the most important times to ensure good hand hygiene:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- 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 2
Times have changed and research has proven you must wash your hands for at least 40-60 seconds, while using the proper technique. “An increase in hand hygiene adherence of only 20 per cent results in a 40 per cent reduction in the rate of health care associated infections.” (McGeer, A. )3
So what is the right way to wash your hands? The World Health Organization offers hand hygiene tips for washing your hands with water and soap, as well as how to “hand rub” using hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- “Hand Hygiene by Habit”. Infection prevention: practical tips for physicians to improve hand hygiene. Ontario Medical Review, November 2007, 74).