Health Tips

Want to stay healthy this season? Here are some tips from the Gallatin-City County Health Department:

 

Hand Washing

Hand washing is the easiest way to reduce and prevent the spread of germs and viruses that make people sick. You don’t need to kill the germs and viruses on your hands, you just need to get them off.

Here are some tips for washing hands well, and the best times to do so:

Holding hands

5 Simple Steps to Proper Hand Washing

Step 1: Wet your hands with warm or cold running water

Step 2: Apply soap. Apply enough to build up a good lather.

Step 3: Vigorously scrub hands, fingernails, and between fingers for 20 seconds.

Step 4: Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.

Step 5: Dry hands with a single use paper towel.

 

It’s the scrubbing action that matters most when washing your hands. The friction created when scrubbing hands with soap is responsible for loosening most of the dirt, grease, oils, and germs from your hands. Rinsing with water simply gets rid of those germs and viruses, washing them right down the drain.

As you touch people, surfaces, and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs and possibly viruses on your hands. You may accidentally infect yourself with these germs and viruses by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Although it’s impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help reduce the transfer of bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microbes to yourself, co-workers, friends, and loved ones.

 

When should you wash your hands?

• After using the restroom

• Before, during, and after preparing food, especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood

• Before and after meals and snacks

• After touching animals or handling animal waste

• After handling pet food or pet treats

• After changing a diaper

• Before and after treating a cut or wound

• Before and after caring for someone who is sick

• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

• More frequently when you or someone in your home is sick

• After touching garbage

• Anytime your hands are dirty

 

What if no sink is readily available?

Hand sanitizers can be a good alternative if soap and running water aren’t available. But hand sanitizers are not going to completely kill all the germs and viruses on your hands. While alcohol-based formulas will kill surface germs, they don’t fully remove the remains from food or other grime stuck in the microscopic cracks of your hands. In turn, this means the hand sanitizer won’t reach and kill the germs lurking under the surface of that stuck-on food and grime. It’s just smarter to suds up when you can.

For more information, check out the CDC’s hand washing page.

Also, check out The Gallatin City-County Health Department’s Environmental Health Program website for more info about Healthy Homes & Environments, and feel free to contact us with any questions at 406-582-3120, ehs@gallatin.mt.gov.