NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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What do you think is the #1 defense against the spread of illness? If you guessed "hand washing," you win!

In any sport, it is important to have a strategy for winning the game, and to have good technique with the skills. The same holds true for hand washing. As we head into fall, and colder temps make it more likely that more of us will be spending more time indoors around more people, it's important to adopt the strategy of washing our hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day. Likewise, it is important to use good hand washing technique. "Splash and dash" simply will not do!

Proper hand washing begins with getting our hands wet with clean, running water. The next step is to add soap, and let the scrubbing begin. The soap serves to loosen germs from our skin and the many hiding places on our hands and fingers. Unfortunately, some people use poor technique on this step by rubbing the soap around on their hands while they are holding their hands under running water in the sink. It is much more effective to work the soap into a lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. During those 20 seconds, scrub front and back of hands, scratch the palms of your hands with the fingernails and joints/knuckles of your other hand, suds up in between fingers all the way to the base of each finger, massage around knuckles, around and under fingernails, and up past the wrists. To gauge when twenty seconds have passed, sing or hum the ABC Song or Happy Birthday Song to yourself (or aloud). You'll be providing a great example to anyone who happens to be watching!

After sudsing and scrubbing for twenty seconds, rinse your hands under clean, running water, and just imagine "sinking" those germs and sending them down the drain. Last of all, dry your hands with a clean towel or hand dryer. If the faucets do not turn off automatically, use your elbow or the paper towel to turn them off. Likewise, use a paper towel to grip the door handle or door knob when you are leaving the washroom.

I will have a "See For Yourself" hand washing demonstration set up during the flu shot clinic at the Sargent County Public Health office in Forman on Friday, November 14. Stop in to test your hand washing technique!

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