Are you perfect?
Wouldn't it be nice if we only had to learn or do things once and then suddenly we were experts? It would be convenient if it "best practices" didn't have to change so that we wouldn't have to update our everyday practices and make changes. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. As a nurse in the hospital, everyone would have to go to an annual competency- consider this yours.
Yesterday, I was watching the news and the anchor was reviewing how to prevent COVID-19 and other illnesses like Influenza by washing hands and covering your cough. He then gestured with his hand to cover his mouth- and just like that I became that person. I was cringing- how does he not know how to properly cover a cough ?! I don't remember exactly when I learned the standard for using your elbow or sleeve but I think it was after I had children. For people that do not have children, perhaps they are still using their hands and I thought it would be a good idea to review correct cough etiquette and effective hand washing.
At this point you might be able to recite that the CDC, MDPH and everyone around the world are urging you to wash your hands, use sanitizer when water and soap are not available and to cover your cough with your elbow- but do you understand why we really need to do it. Right now, we believe that the elderly population with chronic conditions are at the most risk. Kids and healthy adults that have had COVID-19 seem to mostly recover without any issues, in fact most symptoms in children are very mild. I have been a little over the top with hand hygiene with my kids these past few weeks but if your kids are little like mine- you get it- they are gross.
We are washing our hands and surfaces down to first protect ourselves but we are also doing it to protect others. If you weren't motivated before maybe this will work. Hopkinton has families or individuals that have weakened immune systems , we have an elderly population- so in my mind we all should feel obligated to do our part to protect the community by taking a few extra steps (and minutes) to prevent the spread of illness like Flu and COVID-19.
When and How to Wash Your Hands
Before, during, and after preparing food
Before eating food
Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
Before and after treating a cut or wound
After using the toilet
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
After handling pet food or pet treats
After touching garbage
Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs -if it is done effectively.
Follow these five steps every time.
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 the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Seriously- that long. You can sing happy birthday twice every time or set a timer on your phone once to see how long 20 seconds feels.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations but do not get rid of all germs. Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use.
To effectively use hand sanitizer you should:
Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
Rub your hands together.
Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Please don't do this:
The correct way to cover a cough or sneeze:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Use in the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of the tissue after use. DO NOT KEEP THE DIRTY TISSUE
Perform hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic handwash) after having contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials.