What's the simplest way to protect yourself from colds? Flu? Salmonella? Hepatitis A? SARS?
WASH YOUR HANDS!
Many outbreaks of foodborne illness are traced to unwashed or poorly washed hands.
Sneezing and coughing can spread cold germs into the air, but most colds are caught and spread through germs on people's hands.
The germs that cause the flu, SARS, hepatitis A and many kinds of diarrhea can also be picked up and spread by your hands.
If these germs are on your hands, touching your mouth or nose to eat, sneeze or couch can make you sick.
Touching a doorknob, pressing an elevator button, grabbing a pole on public transit or shaking hands can spread germs to others.
When? Always wash your hands
touch or serve food
eat or drink
put in or take out contact lenses
treat a cut, scrape, burn or blister
take care of someone who is sick
go to the bathroom
help someone else use the bathroom
change a diaper (don't forget to wash the baby's hands too!)
cough, sneeze, blow your nose, or wipe a child's nose.
handle uncooked food, especially raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs
touch an animal - especially a reptile - or clean up animal waste
take care of someone who is sick or injured
use public transportation
Washing our hands is a lesson we all learned as children, but when we're busy or in a hurry, we tend to rush or forget to do it. We think our hands are clean, but they're not if we haven't done it right.
Just rinsing your hands isn't washing them, it's wetting them. To get them clean you need to use soap.
A quick rub, even with soap, won't get your hands clean, and the few seconds you save could cost you days if you get sick later.
To make sure your hands are really clean, scrub your palms, between your fingers, the backs of your hands and under your finger nails for at least 20 seconds.
After rinsing, dry your hands with a paper towel. Use the same paper towel to turn off the water and open the restroom door.
Steps to Clean Hands:
Apply soap and rub for 20 seconds
Dry with paper towel
Use towel to turn off faucet.
Remember that your health is in your (clean) hands.
For more information about handwashing, please call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at 617-983-6800, or visit the MDPH website at www.mass.gov/handwashing
Beverly Health Department • 90 Colon Street • Beverly, MA 01915 • Phone: (978) 921-8591 • Fax: (978) 922-5695