Spotlight on the 3rd “W”: WASH Your Hands Often

Hand hygiene, certainly the simplest of public health measures, just may be the most onerous to maintain. Pandemic COVID-19 has been impacting our daily lives for months now; for most Americans, the novelty is waning, patience is fading and the dangerous temptation of complacency is setting in. A Deerfield resident recently referred to the current phenomenon as “caution exhaustion,” a term that is ever so appropriate. The work of mitigating a pandemic is exhausting. But despite how weary, bored, or frustrated we may become, we must continue to prioritize fundamental, effective behaviors like frequent hand hygiene.

To clean your hands effectively, combine warm water with soap to form lather. Scrub your hands with intention for a minimum of 20 seconds, being careful to cover often missed surfaces like the back of your hand, between fingers, around thumbs, and fingertips. Allow water to flow from your wrists to your fingertips to rinse. Dry your hands with a paper towel and then use a clean paper towel to turn off the tap. Use soap and water for hand hygiene whenever it is available and whenever your hands are visibly soiled. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a great alternative. Simply dispense an ample amount into your hand, rub your palms together and then rub all surfaces of your hands until the product has dried completely.

You should preform hand hygiene in any of the following situations, as endorsed by the CDC:

• Each time you enter a new place and upon leaving any public places

• Before, during and after preparing food

• Before eating food

• Before and after caring for someone who is sick

• After using the toilet

• After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

• After touching or caring for pets