Five Sure-Fire Ways to Stop Spreading the Germs


Hand washing is one of the most important health and safety precautions we can use to defend ourselves against diseases such as the common cold, the flu, food poisoning and even MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).

Certain times and certain places call for an increase in the number of times you wash your hands every day. It is important to wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season to reduce your risk of catching or transmitting those viruses. Washing your hands before and after preparing or handling food can lessen your chances of contracting food poisoning. Also, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, hands should be washed thoroughly to reduce the risk of catching or spreading diseases such as salmonella or hepatitis A.

Because bacteria and other germs are around us every day, hand washing should take place after:

  • Coughing, sneezing or using a handkerchief or disposable tissue
  • Eating, drinking or using tobacco products
  • Handling dirty kitchen utensils or equipment
  • Handling garbage
  • Participating in a contact activity, such as sports
  • Shaking hands
  • Playing with pets
  • Touching bare human body parts other than clean, dry hands

Hand washing also diminishes the risk of contracting MRSA, a dangerous staph infection that, if left untreated, can infect the blood stream. MRSA is commonly found in those who participate in contact sports or have used team equipment that has not been properly disinfected. MRSA can be avoided by washing hands and showering frequently.

To ensure that your hands are being effectively cleansed, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following five steps for hand washing:

  • Wash with hot running water and soap. Children should use warm running water.
  • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.
  • Pay additional attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Leave the water running while you dry your hands on a disposable paper towel.
  • Use the paper towel as a barrier between the faucet and your clean hands when you turn the water off.

If soap and water are not available, gel hand sanitizer or alcohol-based hand wipes can kill germs on skin until proper cleansing can take place.