Okay, it’s not the kind of topic that inspires parades, but maybe it should. This is National Hand Washing Awareness Week (December 4 – 10, 2011), a time when we can celebrate what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “the most important think you can do to keep from getting sick.” Washing hands can help prevent the spread of influenza, the common cold, hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea. For example, 1 in 3 cases of E. coli infection is caused by poor hand-washing by food preparers. In addition, germs can pass from unclean hands to your clean hands…and then if you touch your own mouth, eyes, or eyes, you can get sick.
So, as mundane as the topic seems, here are some guidelines for hand washing:
Five Main Rules of Hand Washing
- Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
- Wash your hands anytime they’re dirty.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
- Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands–use a tissue, or if you have no other choice, cover your mouth with your arm and cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Correct way of washing hands
- Use warm water and soap.
- Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
- Scrub with soap for a minimum of 30 seconds, or the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Rince thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
- To keep away from recontamination, turn faucet off with the a towel, not your hands.
No fanfare, no parades, no sexy message. Just a gentle reminder that the simple act of washing your hands could help prevent many of winter’s worst illnesses.