5 Hygiene Best-Practices & Why They Keep You Safe From Diseases Like Coronavirus

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Hand wiping down a white counter with a green and yellow sponge.

How Proper Hygiene Can Help Prevent the Spread of Viruses

Proper personal and household hygiene can be one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from illnesses like coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that many diseases can be prevented through personal hygiene. Cleaning common spaces, shared items, and your hands are some of the hygiene best practices that will prepare your home for coronavirus

Wash Your Hands

Infections, especially respiratory infections like coronavirus, typically enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Throughout the day, as you touch items that could contain a virus, the virus transfers to your hands. A virus on your hands won’t make you sick, but it likely will once you touch your face– something we do 23 times per hour.

Since most of us do it instinctively, it’s almost impossible to just stop touching our faces. What is possible is washing our hands properly and regularly. There are 5 steps to follow to make sure you’re washing your hands properly:

  1. Wet your hands with clean water (the water can be any temperature).
  2. Apply soap and lather, making sure to rub all areas of your hands, between your fingers, and underneath your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing the soap on all parts of your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the happy birthday song or the alphabet twice!
  4. Rinse the soap from your hands with clean water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel. Wash and replace the towel as often as possible.

For maximum impact, wash your hands frequently. It’s especially important to wash your hands when you get home, before you eat, and after interacting with someone who is sick.

Use Hand Sanitizer

If soap and running water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is the next best option. Choose a hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based with at least 60% alcohol.

For maximum effectiveness, disperse the amount of hand sanitizer recommended on the product packaging. Then, rub the hand sanitizer into your hands until it’s completely dry. As you rub, make sure to spread the hand sanitizer all over your hands, including the back, front, and between your fingers.

Clean High-Traffic Areas

In addition to your hands, viruses, bacteria, and other germs can linger on household surfaces. Surfaces or objects that you touch often can be a hub for germs. Coronavirus, in particular, can live outside the body for up to 9 days, meaning an infected object can harbour the virus for over a week. 

Think about the areas that you constantly touch but never think to clean. Doorknobs, light switches, and countertops are some of the high-traffic areas you should give an extra wipe down on your next cleaning rounds.

Keep Germs to Yourself

If you’re sick, or you think you’re getting sick, one of the best things you can do is prevent spreading the infection to others. Stay home from work, school, or other public areas when you’re sick.

If you cough or sneeze, cover it with a tissue and throw it away after. As for face masks, they don’t actually prevent coronavirus on their own. According to the World Health Organization, masks must be combined with other preventive measures, like handwashing, to be effective.

Face masks are only useful in very specific situations and chances are you don’t need one. If you aren’t sick, you don’t need a face mask (unless you are taking care of or in the same room as a sick person). If you have a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, then you should wear a face mask when you seek medical treatment to prevent infecting others. 

Limit Sharing

You might remember that sharing is caring, but not when it comes to preventing the spread of disease. Never share personal items like toothbrushes, hairbrushes, or razors. The same goes for cutlery, dishes, and water bottles.

Any items that are shared regularly should be disinfected between uses. For children’s toys, only share hard-surface toys that can be cleaned to prevent spreading infection between children. Along with regular handwashing and cleaning of high traffic areas, you can help keep yourself and your family safe from coronavirus and other illnesses. 

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