December 1-7 is National Handwashing Awareness Week, reminding each of us to take better care of how well we clean our hands each day. This initiative seeks to bring awareness to all the germs that are found on our hands and what we can do to prevent illness through proper handwashing techniques. By implementing the five rules for effective handwashing into your daily life, you’ll be able to cut down your likelihood of getting the flu and other communicable diseases that can drastically impact your life. Find out what steps you should take when washing your hands with this guide!
Important Facts About Hand Hygiene
The winter holidays are in full swing, and that means that illness is, too. Each year, millions of people get sick with various illnesses like the flu, upper respiratory infections (common cold) and sinusitis. Each of these is spread through human-to-human contact, and most people develop at these one of these illnesses from dirty hands. Kids are especially prone to illness caused by unclean hands, with 1.4 million children under age 5 dying each year across the globe from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. While unfortunate, these deaths can be completely preventable by doing one simple thing each day: washing your hands. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 infections (i.e. the flu), which is a huge deal since more than one million kids die each year from one of these illnesses. Equally as disturbing, the CDC also estimates that only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using a public restroom, further spreading illness and even disease across the nation and the world. These statistics are frightening, and it just goes to show how important it is to wash your hands during the sick season and whenever you’ve been in a public place. Germs are microscopically small, so even if you think that what or who you’re touching is clean, it most likely isn’t. By washing your hands often, you’ll be able to avoid most of these communicable diseases and keep yourself and your family healthy this holiday season.
National Handwashing Awareness Week
In conjunction with daily handwashing, December 1-7 is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and its main purpose is to educate people about the effects of handwashing and encourage them to clean themselves often. Handwashing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent illness, and it’s completely free! Illness spreads like wildfire at the workplace, at home and in hospitals and childcare facilities, so each of us has a responsibility to keep our hands clean to keep this from happening. To help us, the campaign for National Handwashing Awareness Week provides five steps for us to follow so that we can be germ-free throughout the year:
- Wet your hands with clean water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together, and don’t forget to lather the back of your hands, under your fingernails and in between your fingers.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands under clean water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.
The CDC makes it easy to remember these steps: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry. You should be applying these steps each time that you wash your hands, even if you’re in a rush or tired. In fact, you should wash your hands before, during and after each of these events:
- Before, during and after preparing food
- After using the toilet
- After touching an animal, its waste or its feed
- After changing a dirty diaper
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick and/or vomiting
- After touching garbage
- After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
This is not an exhaustive list. If you’re wondering whether or not you should wash your hands after doing something, you probably should. Avoid touching your face, nose or eyes with your hands, whether clean or dirty, and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing as one sneeze can expel more than 40,000 droplets of liquid.
What To Do If You Can’t Wash Your Hands
It’s essential that we follow the five steps to washing our hands each day: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry. However, many of us work in facilities where there are no sinks or water to clean our hands with or we don’t have enough time to clean ourselves, so there are extra precautions you must take if you’re ever in this situation. If you don’t have the means to wash your hands each day, then hand sanitizer is going to become one of your best friends. Don’t buy just any hand sanitizer, though; make sure that the sanitizer contains 60% alcohol to ensure a proper clean. You can determine what the sanitizer’s alcohol content is by reading the product label on the back of the bottle, and then you’re good to go. However, while hand sanitizer reduces the number of germs on the hands during use, it should never replace handwashing as it doesn’t get rid of ALL types of germs. Additionally, hand sanitizer doesn’t always remove heavy chemicals or metals, nor does it clean as well if your hands are greasy or visibly dirty. When you can, always choose handwashing over hand sanitizer to ensure that your hands are completely clean.
Stay Healthy Over The Holidays With Our Help!
At Balanced Well-Being Healthcare, we care about your health over the holidays and throughout the year. The flu and other illnesses can ruin your week and put your health at risk, so it’s vital that you implement regular and thorough handwashing into your daily routine. If the sick bug bit you even after following the handwashing rules described above, call our office at (970) 631-8286. The holidays are no time to be sick, so call today to get your health back on track!