February 2019. We have all learned time and time again about the importance of handwashing, and how it can reduce the risk for harmful infections and, ultimately, save lives. Then, along comes Pete Hegseth, co-host of Fox & Friends, with the statement that he has not washed his hands in 10 years. He stated the reason for this as being “germs are not a real thing – I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.” Whether he was joking or not is still under debate, but one thing is for sure, his statement is far from being correct.
Hegseth’s statement no doubt created a lot of publicity, but many are now concerned that people will be influenced by him in not washing their hands. And they have every right to be.
The Guardian (2019) quotes Professor Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she states that:
“Hands are the most important vector of infectious diseases.”Val Curtis, 2019. Retrieved from the Guardian
She adds to this that not washing your hands or improper handwashing puts everyone at risk, and that it is a moral issue above all. If, for example, you go to the washroom and don’t wash your hands, everything you touch afterwards will be contaminated. Everyone who touches the same surfaces that you did will be touching the bacteria that you have spread, putting them at high risk for infection.
Even though the risks are significant from improper handwashing, many people rarely put in the extra little effort needed in order to reduce these risks. According to Sandoz (2019), 1 in 20 people fail to wash their hands properly after using the washroom. Also, the average time that people take to wash their hands is 7 seconds, which is far below the recommended 20 seconds (Sandoz, 2019).
How to properly wash your hands
So what is considered proper handwashing and how can we achieve it in order to prevent infection? The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides us with detailed steps in order to maintain ultimate hand hygiene. The steps are as follows:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands well, under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
Proper handwashing is necessary to prevent the spread of infection and to ultimately save lives. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to do, and it can make all the difference. So do your part for yourself and society; wash your hands 🙂