How to Wash Your Hands to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
As part of the Sheba Safe Hospital Standard, experts share all the tips you and your family need to know about handwashing to stay safe from coronavirus.
Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, which means that it spreads when virus particles in mucus or droplets enter your body via your nose, mouth, or eyes. In the vast majority of cases, it’s your hands that are responsible for carrying the virus to your face. Also, hands are one of the most common ways for the virus to spread from person to person. That’s why frequent handwashing with soap and water is one of the most essential ways to control the spread of infection!
Specialists from the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center stress, “It is important to disinfect your hands frequently, especially after coughing and sneezing and after contact with the environment in public places – door handles, bus columns, elevator buttons. This is because the virus stays on the objects and goes into contact with the environment.
Also, you should sneeze into your elbow and not into your hands, avoid shaking hands, and in general – avoid contact with your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.”
What’s the right way to wash hands?
Putting your hands under a running faucet for a quick rinse doesn’t do much. Even if you squirt some soap and rub for a second or two, it’s still not very effective. So how should you wash your hands to maximize the effects? Follow these steps:
- Wet your hands with running water.
- Apply soap generously, using enough to cover your hands.
- Scrub all parts of your hands, including your palms, back of your hands, between each finger, and under your nails. Do this for a minimum of 20 seconds; if you’re tired of simply counting to 20, hum Row, row, row your boat… twice, or sing Happy Birthday twice to pass the time.
- Rinse well with running water.
- Dry your hands with a disposable towel or clean cloth; don’t share towels with others!
- Use a towel to turn off the faucet.
Is Alco-Gel or hand sanitizer an effective substitute for hand washing?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing with soap and water is preferable whenever possible. However, when water and soap are not readily available, you can use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can rapidly reduce the amount of microbes on your hands, but they do not eliminate all types of germs. Also, they are less effective when your hands are particularly dirty or greasy.
To use hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (use the amount recommended on the label) and rub it all over the surfaces of both your hands. Continue to rub it until your hands are dry.
When is it recommended to wash your hands?
For the best protection against COVID-19, it’s important to wash your hands under the following circumstances:
- After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
- After touching any surfaces or objects outside your home, including money
- After visiting a public place, such as stores and places of worship
- After travelling on public transportation
- Before and after eating
- Before, during, and after caring for someone who is sick
- After putting on your shoes
- After using a shared computer
Handwashing is an essential part of proper, healthy hygiene in general, and it’s also advised to wash at these times:
- After using the toilet or helping children to use the toilet
- After touching garbage
- After petting animals
- After changing a baby’s diaper
- Whenever your hands are visibly dirty
How can parents encourage and help children wash their hands?
Here are some helpful tips for encouraging kids to keep their hands clean:
Another thing to remember is not to leave hand sanitizer within reach of very small children who may mistake it for food. Drinking it is poisonous!
Are there any other handwashing rules?
An additional important instruction is to always dry your hands completely after handwashing. Germs spread much more easily from wet skin. Paper towels are ideal, because you discard them immediately after they help to remove germs from your hands. That way they don’t have a chance to spread those germs to another surface.
In case you were wondering – the water temperature isn’t significant. You can use cold or warm water, they are equally effective at killing the virus. It’s soap that you can’t do without!
In addition to handwashing, what else is included on the Sheba Safe Hospital Standard?
Personal and mutual responsibility play a key role in protecting yourself and others against COVID-19. Along with proper hand hygiene, the following practices are required for every person who comes to Sheba Medical Center:
- At every entrance to the hospital, you will be monitored for fever or any other coronavirus symptoms.
- A mask (without a filter) must be worn constantly throughout your stay at the hospital.
- Practice social distancing by staying 2 meters away from all other people at all times.