Nurse Banks: Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

Mar 9, 2020

Nurse Bonita Banks, SPH
Credit KBBI

This week’s commentary is from Nurse Bonita Banks, Health and Wellness Educator at South Peninsula Hospital. Nurse Banks has some tips on steering clear of viruses.

For complete information on coronavirus in Alaska, go to coronavirus.alaska.gov. The website is updated every day at noon.

The first thing is to stay calm. So, we know the best way that we can prevent getting infected from germs is by washing our hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after eating, after playing with animals, but it's not just throwing our hands under water. It's lathering up with soap and it doesn't have to be antibacterial soap, regular bar soap or liquid soap -equally effective.

Scrub, not just your palms together, but you really need to rub the backs of both of your hands. Fake fingernails tend to harbor more bacteria and germs, and don't forget the risk because germs will travel up the wrists as well. It can be cold water. It can be warm water. Hot water tends to be too irritating. No temperature is better than another.

Use a clean towel to dry your hands and turn the water off. I use the towel then to flip off the light switch and open the door before I leave the bathroom.

After you've gone to the grocery store or you've been at the movie theater anywhere where there's large groups of people that are congregating, definitely use that opportunity to wash your hands afterwards. You can contaminate yourself with germs by touching your eyes, rubbing your nose, and of course, touching your mouth. So avoid touching that area of your face altogether. Frequently touched surfaces, telephones, remotes, desktops - just clean them regularly. You don't have to use the bleach wipes, just regular household detergent and water, but frequent cleaning.
There's also hand sanitizer that needs to have a minimum of 60% alcohol to be effective. Pretend you're washing your hands, rub both sides of your hands between the fingers. It's not just rubbing the palms together and you're good to go. Be aware that there are expiration dates on your hand sanitizer, so if you bought it several years ago. You need to check the date.
Sometimes people are asking about should they wear a mask when they go out in public or should they be buying up the respirators? And really, what's recommended is only patients who are actively coughing really need to worry about wearing a mask when they're out in public. 85% of the people that have gotten the coronavirus, the covid-19, have really mild symptoms and may not have a spiked fever or very extreme symptoms. If you feel that you have been in contact with someone, then you would call first. Call the hospital or call Homer Medical or whomever your provider is before you just show up. Most likely they will meet you at the door, provide you with a mask, and keep you separate from the rest of the community that's there.

I'm Bonita Banks. I'm a nurse community educator here at South Peninsula hospital.