Recognizing National Hand Washing Awareness Week, Dec. 5-11, 2010

Wash Hands

How many times do you wash your hands during the day? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

A study by the CDC revealed several interesting trends about the hand-washing habits of Americans:

  • Nearly half of the population does not wash their hands after coughing or sneezing
  • About one-third do not always wash before eating lunch
  • Up to half of all men and one-fourth of all women fail to wash their hands after using the restroom
  • Right-handed people tend to wash their left hand more thoroughly than their right, and the opposite applies to left-handers

Hand washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, that does not require water.

Wash Your Hands Frequently.
Throughout the day, we collect dirt and germs on our hands, and these germs are easily transferred when touching our eyes, nose or mouth, increasing the possibility of getting sick. Washing your hands frequently throughout the day helps control the spread of viruses and other bacteria that can cause infectious diseases in your eyes, such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye) and corneal ulcers.

It is a good habit always to wash your hands before preparing food, eating a meal, treating wounds, dispensing medicine, inserting or removing contact lenses or touching the eye to remove an eyelash or speck of dirt.

It is also imperative that you wash your hands thoroughly after:

  • Preparing food
  • Using the toilet
  • Changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal or its belongings
  • Blowing your nose
  • Coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating a wound
  • Touching or sitting near a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage
  • Cleaning cloths and brushes

For proper hand washing, follow these directions:

  • Wet hands and dispense soap on palms, and then start scrubbing in a circular motion until foam builds up
  • Rub between each finger – the hot spots for germs!
  • Scrub all surfaces, such as the backs of your hands, wrists and under each fingernail with soap until clean, at least 10 seconds
  • Rinse off thoroughly
  • Pat your hands dry with a clean cloth; avoid shaking off excess water and letting them air dry as damp hands spread 1,000 times more germs than dry hands
  • Turn off water faucet with a paper towel
  • If water and soap are not available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol; dispense enough in the palm of your hand to cover all surfaces; rub hands together for at least 25 seconds or until dry.

Do you regularly wash your hands throughout the day? Do you use a hand sanitizer when no soap and water is available? – Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group

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