Staying Healthy

Wash Your Hands
The strongest defense against communicable disease is to wash your hands! Hand sanitizer does not replace hand washing; washing your hands with plain old soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is more effective than sanitizing product on the market. One common question we receive is “Why can the doctors and nurses in the hospital use hand sanitizer but you say it is not the best choice?” Doctors and nurses in the hospital are using hand sanitizer to kill germs they pick up when moving between patients. Whenever they get their hands dirty with bodily fluids, etc., they must wash their hands with soap and water. You can compare this to hand washing in your daily life. After using the bathroom, handling raw meats, or working outside in the dirt, our hands get dirty. They are covered with fluids or visible dirt particles that must be washed off. If you tried to use sanitizer to remove this dirt, you would simply be moving the dirt around, not killing the germs.

More Information
If you would like to learn more about hand washing, download hand washing materials, or have our hand washing trailer come visit your facility, please visit our Hand Washing Education page.

Cook Food Thoroughly
Another important defense against disease is to cook your food thoroughly - and not just until it looks done. There are specific temperatures that your meat should reach when cooking and each home should have a metal-stemmed thermometer to measure food temperature.

Food Temperatures

Temperature (Degrees Fahrenheit)
Beef, fish, pork, lamb, veal, and egg dishes
Ground Meat
165 Poultry, stuffed fish, stuffed meat, stuffed pasta, and any stuffing with meat products
165-170 Chicken and turkey breasts, leftovers
165-180 Chicken and turkey (whole birds, legs, thighs, and wings), and ground poultry

Prevent Cross Contamination

When unloading your groceries, it is important to think about more than what fits best on each shelf. Putting meat on the bottom shelf and ready-to-eat foods on the top shelves helps prevent cross contamination. Since foods such as fruits and vegetables are often not cooked before they are served, it is important to protect them from meat drippings and other sources of bacteria. In addition, when preparing foods, wash your hands after handling raw meat and before handling ready-to-eat foods.

Vaccinate Yourself & Your Family

It is absolutely unnecessary for people to suffer from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have been developed to protect against nearly 25 conditions. These conditions wreaked havoc on communities in years past, but because of a nationwide vaccination effort, children now don’t have to worry about these diseases. For more information on vaccinations, please visit our Immunization page.

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is a serious illness that can become life-threatening if left untreated, but can be managed. Please access these materials to learn more information regarding MRSA. Special thanks to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department for the development of many of these materials: