How To Wash Your Hands The Right Way

Health officials say frequent hand washing could reduce your risk of coronavirus infection.

By Bonnie PetrieMarch 6, 2020 7:01 am, , , ,

From Texas Public Radio:

From Italy to Washington State to right here in Texas, the story of coronavirus continues to evolve. We have heard there’s no need to panic. But officials recommend folks take certain precautions, including frequent, prolonged hand washing.

But how long?

“If you have children at home, sit at the sink and sing your ABCs with them four times. That’s how long you need to wash your hands,” says San Antonio Metro Health director Dawn Emerick.

Really, four times? I admit, that’s a lot longer than I’d thought. Emerick taught me something else too. If you use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, “don’t wipe them with a paper towel, you gotta let it dry. That’s what kills the bacteria.”

Another tip: stop shaking hands. I know it seems rude, but infecting your newest friend with a novel virus is even more rude.

“Avoid the handshake, avoid the touching avoid the hugging, if possible,” says Cherise Allegrini, an epidemiologist in San Antonio.

While better than a naked handshake, Allegrini says neither elbow bumps and fist bumps don’t actually work that well. They still expose you to more risk than greetings where you don’t touch at all.

So nod. Or how about just waving?

“When I’m passing people on the Riverwalk everybody’s saying hi. We’re not shaking hands, we’re just acknowledging each other with a hello and a nod,” Allegrini says.

Or you could do what Allegrini did when she lived in Thailand during the SARS epidemic.

“You fold your hands together like you’re praying and you bow,” Allegrini says.

That sounds a little like what I already do in yoga class, and it will keep my hands virus-free.