How clean are your hands?

Calderdale Council took to the streets of Halifax on Tuesday 29 April, in advance of the up and coming Hand Hygiene Day on Monday 5 May.

We wash our hands every day and don’t think anything of it, but many of us have witnessed people either not washing their hands enough, or not at all when they should have done, and that’s how many germs spread.

Over one hundred visitors came to the stand on Southgate in Halifax town centre to find out more about hand washing.  The stand included storyboards of some stories from history about hand hygiene and infection prevention.  One of the stories was that of Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis who demonstrated the importance of hand washing in preventing infections in a maternity unit in 1847.  He enforced strict hand washing for the attending doctors, and deaths due to puerperal fever were drastically reduced.

In addition to information about hand washing, visitors were invited to do a UV hand wash test.  They were asked to rub a UV cream all over their hands, then use soap and water to wash their hands as they would normally. Hands were then placed under a UV light which showed up the areas of the hands missed when washed.  Nearly all of the hands examined had UV cream left on them.

Gill Manojlovic, Head of Infection, Prevention and Control at Calderdale Council said:

“Visitors were surprised at the results, especially those who felt they had done a thorough hand wash.  Typically areas that were missed were around and under fingernails, the thumbs and back of the hand. How you wash your hands is key in ensuring any harmful bacteria are removed.  Hands need to be washed before carrying out a clean task such as eating or preparing food, cleaning a cut or putting in eye drops.

Hand washing instructions“To remove bacteria and viruses from your hands wash them after using the toilet, coughing or sneezing into your hands, blowing your nose, handling animals, gardening and handling waste.

“To thoroughly wash hands, the steps to take are to wet hands, apply soap, rub hands together covering all the surfaces, rinse all soap away and dry. When there is no soap and water, alcohol based hand rubs can be used, but only if hands are visibly clean.

“The simplest things can help us stay healthy. Properly washing our hands is one of the most basic steps people can do to protect their health.”

If anyone would like a free sticker showing a good hand washing technique for their bathroom or kitchen sinks these can be collected at Halifax Central Library. If any group leaders would like to borrow a UV hand wash box to use within their groups they can contact the Infections Prevention and Control team at Northgate House on 01422 266164.

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