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Information about the 2009 H1N1 Flu

Washing Hands
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This Web site is designed to answer all your questions about East Carolina University's proactive response to the 2009 H1N1 flu Virus. If you have any questions, please contact:

Student Health Service
Division of Academic and Student Affairs
East Carolina University 252.328.6841

Proper Hand Washing

Prevention  |  Cleaning  |  H1N1 Vaccine

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting germs, the flu and/or 2009 H1N1 flu and other influenza virus?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner.  CDC recommends that when you wash your hands with soap and warm water, it should last 15 to 20 seconds.  When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.  If using gel, rub your hands for 20 seconds or until your hands feel dry, whichever is longest.  The gel does not need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.  However, wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible.

Why is hand washing important?
Hand washing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Good hand washing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults. Follow these six simple steps to keeping hands clean:
  1. Wet your hands with warm running water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub your hands together, making a soapy lather. Do this away from the running water for at least 20 seconds, being careful not to wash the lather away. Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
  4. Rinse your hands well under warm running water. Let the water run back into the sink, not down to your elbows.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean paper towel.
  6. Turn off the water with a paper towel and dispose in a proper receptacle.
 Hand Washing Diagram

Why isn’t it enough to wash with water alone?
Washing hands with water alone, a common practice, is significantly less effective than washing hands with soap.  Using soap helps with the breakdown of grease and dirt that carry most germs.  Through the use of soap and by rubbing hands together, the friction helps dislodge the grease and dirt.

How safe are alcohol-based hand disinfectants?
They are very safe.  The alcohol content of the disinfectant product completely evaporates in about 20 seconds.  You should use hand lotion after each use of the alcohol-based hand disinfectant to balance the drying effect of alcohol on your skin.

Is it safe to use alcohol-based disinfectant for the hands of children?
Yes, it is safe.  It should not be swallowed; therefore, young children should be supervised when using it.  After application of the disinfectant to hands, the alcohol content evaporates and children can safely touch their mouth or eyes.