Infection Control

An Ounce of Prevention Keeps the Germs Away

Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses. Cleaning your hands gets rid of germs you pick up from other people . . . from the surfaces you touch . . . and from the animals you come in contact with.

When to wash:

  • Before eating.
  • Before, during, and after handling or preparing food.
  • After contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, or saliva).
  • After changing a diaper.
  • After you use the bathroom.
  • After handling animals, their toys, leashes, or waste.
  • After touching something that could be contaminated (such as a trash can, cleaning cloth, drain, or soil).
  • Before dressing a wound, giving medicine or inserting contact lenses.
  • More often when someone in your home is sick.
  • Whenever they look dirty.

How to wash:

  • Wet your hands and apply liquid, bar, or powder soap.
  • Rub hands together vigorously to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue for 20 seconds! It takes that long for the soap and scrubbing action to dislodge and remove stubborn germs. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” all the way through - twice!
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer.
  • If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Remember: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based wipe or hand gel!

Read the rest of this handout on germ prevention, produced by the CDC.

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