The winter holiday season is often spent enjoying time with family and friends. But sometimes our holiday spirit takes a nosedive as illnesses settle over us like dark clouds. This season we are faced with climbing through the dark clouds of known and common illnesses; but we are also engaged in a dogfight with the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, which makes celebrating the holidays a little more daunting than usual. So, how can we stay festive during a cold and flu season complicated by a pandemic? The easiest first maneuver is simply to wash our hands!
Holiday gatherings are breeding grounds for germs. Even with masking and social distancing, keeping our hands clean is the most important way to help prevent germs from spreading amongst our family members and friends. Why? Because as you touch various surfaces and people, your hands become covered in germs that can be spread to others as you encounter them throughout the day.
Frequent handwashing can help limit the transfer of germs. Handwashing removes germs so we can avoid becoming ill and prevent the spread of germs to others. We should take care to wash our hands well all the time, but especially after touching our mouths or noses, after using the restroom, before and after cooking, and before eating.
Many people do not know how to properly wash their hands, but good handwashing technique is easy to learn. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases this holiday season, start simply by following these five simple steps:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water.
- Apply soap and lather it on your hands by rubbing them together, making sure to scrub the back of each hand, in between your fingers, and under your fingernails. (A nail brush is sometimes helpful.)
- Once the soap is lathered all over your hands, scrub them for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a single-use, disposable paper towel or a clean towel, as damp hands spread germs more easily than dry hands.
Note that germs adhere to the skin, so it is crucial to use soap and water for handwashing; water alone is ineffective to break down and dissolve the grime that provides cover for germs. If soap and water are unavailable, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol is the next best option until you get another opportunity to wash your hands. It is enough to use a dime- to quarter-sized amount of hand sanitizer in the palm of one hand; rub it all over your hands and fingers until they are dry.
Besides preventive measures like masking and social distancing, thorough handwashing is a top means by which we can combat the spread of illnesses, including COVID-19. Embracing handwashing as a habit will help you protect your health and that of your loved ones.
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