As a Health Promotions and Communications Officer, my job is to find (trusted and true) information to share about health. As you can imagine, this impacts my personal habits every single day. A few weeks ago, we were preparing information about the flu. I am eligible for the free flu shot but I also want to know what I can do to prevent getting the flu in my every day actions.
A quick glance on the web will try and convince me to take any number of supplements to support healthy immune functions, but the one that sticks with me the best is more widely available to all of us than any supplement. The most important habit to keep you healthy is to wash your hands.
If you think about it, washing your hands supports your health every single day. Unlike keeping track of physical activity or servings of vegetables, I can do this multiple times a day and know that I am supporting my health.
To provide the public with health information, I work with a variety of experts. In this exercise, I worked with Kim Garrison, Public Health Communications Liaison Nurse, and I learned some interesting tidbits about hand hygiene and I think they are worth sharing with you:
- Did you know that viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to two days, and on hands for up to five minutes? I think about this when using elevators and opening doors. It motivates me to clean my hands more regularly!
- There are commonly some parts of your hands that you will miss when washing them. These include the backs of your hands, around your finger nails, and especially the back of the thumb area. Next time you wash your hands, think about where you spend your time scrubbing.
- While washing your hands with warm running water and soap is ideal, we don’t always have access to soap and water. In this case, alcohol based hand sanitizers are useful in keeping the germs at bay. Just make sure to rub your hands together until they are dry!
Finally, what good would an article on hand washing be if I didn’t give you those seven cardinal rules to do it properly? To ensure you are germs from all parts of your hands, it is important to follow these steps:
- Remove jewelry from hands and wrists
- Get hands wet with warm water
- Wash all parts of hands with soap and water, and rub together to create a lather
- Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds
- Rinse hands well under warm running water for at least 10 seconds
- Dry hands with a clean cloth or paper towel
- Use the towel to turn off the tap and open the door when you leave if in a public restroom
A good idea to help children wash their hands long enough is to sing the ABC song with them.
When you think of your health habits, what things do you think of? How far up that list is washing your hands?
About Chelan Zirul
Chelan Zirul is the Health Promotions and Communications officer for Northern Health. As a graduate from UNBC, she did her Master's of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. She explored regional development decision-making and is an advocate for policy that is appropriate for the needs of northerners. This, combined with her personal interest in health and wellness, drew her to work in health communications. Born in northern B.C., she is learning to take advantage of the access to outdoor living. She enjoys hunting and exploring the backcountry with her husband. She stays active with CrossFit and enjoys finding ways to use local foods.