1. Although you can’t see them, germs are everywhere.
Germs, such as bacteria and viruses, are microscopic and not readily visible to the naked eye. But just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In fact, some bacteria live on your skin and some even live inside you. For example, more than 50% of healthy persons have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair, or skin. Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that can cause a variety of infections.
Germs commonly reside on everyday objects. They can be transferred from contaminated objects to your hands when you touch them. There are many everyday objects that harbor more germs than a toilet seat; these include your kitchen sponge, computer keyboard, faucet handles, smartphones and tablets.
Some of the most common ways that germs get transferred to your hands is through handling raw meat, by using the toilet or changing a diaper, by coughing or sneezing, and after contact with pets.
2. Germs make you sick.
Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi and other germs cause disease in humans. These germs gain access to the body as they are transferred from person to person or from contact with contaminated surfaces.
Once inside the body, the germs evade the body’s immune system and can produce toxins that make you sick. The most common causes of foodborne diseases and food poisoning are bacteria, viruses and parasites. Reactions to these germs can range from mild gastric discomfort and diarrhea to death.
3. Washing your hands prevents the spread of germs.
Properly washing your hands is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Having clean hands is important because people often use their hands to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth. A study done in two cities in the US and Brazil found that people touched their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour, and common objects an average of 3.3 times per hour. Contact with these areas gives germs, like the flu virus, access to the inside of the body where they can cause illness.
You should wash your hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used 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
4. Washing your hands can save you thousands in hospital expenses.
Washing and drying your hands is a simple preventative measure that can be taken to help stave off illness. The healthier you are, the less likely you will have to go for expensive medical treatment at a hospital or emergency care clinic. Using a bar of soap to wash your hands is an inexpensive means of preserving your health and the health of those around you.
5. Washing your hands can keep you healthy.
A major benefit of making sure your hands are clean is that it helps keep you healthy. It also helps to keep the environment around you clean, which prevents germs from spreading to others. Consider these facts:
- Proper hand washing and drying reduces your risk of getting sick with diarrhea by one-third. It also reduces your risk of getting a respiratory illness by up to 20 percent.
- Washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50 percent.
- Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.
- A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks is spread by contaminated hands. Appropriate hand washing practices can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and other infections.