Wash your hands and wash them thorough.
This is the plea of the government to all South Africans – and especially after they have visited the bathroom, changed a baby’s nappy, dealt with rubbish or even prepared food.
South Africa’s support for World Handwashing Day is expressed in a statement on the government’s official website.
This global initiative, which was launched in 2008, is celebrated annually on 15 October to shine the spotlight again and again on this simple yet powerful element of personal hygiene.
“World Handwashing Day is an annual institution dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of washing hands with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent the spread of disease.
“This is an opportunity to encourage people in creative ways to wash their hands with soap,” reads the statement.
Claire Bowen from Shower to Shower also shares some practical tips to master the simple art of hand washing:
- The 20-second rule: Sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing your hands. This way you will ensure that you wash your hands for a full 20 seconds, including between your fingers and under your nails.
- Lather: Use soap, such as a liquid hand wash soap such as Fresh Escape from Shower to Shower. It sounds obvious, but soap makes a huge difference.
- Don’t forget your joints: Germs can hide in unexpected places. Be sure to wash not only your palms and fingers, but also your joints. The joints are often overlooked, but are a big culprit that spreads germs over surfaces.
- Take care of your nails: Our fingernails are a breeding ground for germs. Take a few extra seconds to scrub under your nails with a nail brush or using your fingertips.
- Hot water: Although cold water will get the job done, hot water can more easily break down oils and remove germs.
- Drying off matters: Dry your hands thoroughly after washing them, with a clean towel or an air dryer.
Bowen says we need to remind ourselves that living healthier doesn’t have to be complicated.
“Sometimes the smallest action, like washing your hands, is the one that makes the biggest impact on your well-being.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research shows that deaths from diarrhea-related diseases could decrease by 50.3% if people washed their hands more often with soap and water.
Researchers also estimate that more than a million deaths per year could be prevented if everyone washed their hands more often.
A large percentage of foodborne diseases are spread by contaminated hands. Hand washing can also reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses such as colds among the general public by between 16% and 21%.
It can also reduce children’s absence from school due to gastrointestinal diseases by between 29% and 57%.
In a quick sample of RNews’s employees, the majority indicated that they regularly washed their hands in the office, with some saying they washed their hands up to 15 times a day.
“I washed my hands thoroughly every time I used the bathroom and then again very thoroughly when I got home in the afternoon,” says one employee.
Most staff members also indicated that they washed their hands every time before preparing food.