How many times did your mother or grandmother say to you, “Did you wash your hands?” We trudge to the bathroom sink and wash our hands before sitting down at the table. Or we have the “inspection” done by grandmom making sure our digits met her standards.
This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week. Holiday get-togethers increase the risk of spreading germs and catching diseases. The goal of National Handwashing Awareness Week is to decrease the spread of infectious diseases by educating people and communities. The Centers for Disease Control cites “Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.” The spread of infection and illness occurs in all settings – home, workplace, child car facilities, and hospitals just to name a few. By taking the time to wash your hands, you can help stop spreading germs from person to person and throughout your community.
When should you wash your hands?
- Before and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal or animal waste
- After touching garbage
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
What is the right way to wash your hands?
- Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.
- Lather and scrub well making sure to get under your fingernails and the backs of your hands.
- Continue washing for at least 20 seconds. As a child, many of us sang the “Happy Birthday Song” twice as a timer before we were done washing.
- Rinse well under running water.
- Use a clean towel to dry your hands or allow to air dry.
If soap and water is not available to you at a time you need to wash, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. While they do not elimitate all types of germs, they can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands.
For more information on handwashing, check out the CDC’s Handwashing: Clean Hands Saves Lives Website.