National Handwashing Awareness Week

The first week of December is National Handwashing Awareness Week!

Why is this week so important?

The goal of National Handwashing Awareness Week is to decrease the spread of the flu and other infectious diseases by bringing awareness to the importance of good hand hygiene.

Scientists have known for more than 100 years that handwashing helps prevent infection. Yet, study after study shows that more than half of all healthcare workers fail to wash their hands as often as (or as well as) they should.

What makes handwashing so challenging?

InTheKnow, a company focused on caregiver training, recently asked nearly 500 caregivers over a two-week period, “What makes it so
challenging to follow proper handwashing procedures?” Here’s what they told us:

57% said there were no clean towels or paper towels available to dry hands after washing.

38% said there was no soap available to wash their hands.

29% said there was no proper sink or clean water.

23% said they didn’t have any hand sanitizer to clean hands as needed.

A majority of caregivers polled in this survey care for clients in home care settings.

It’s a fact…80% of all infectious diseases are spread by hands.

What can you do?

You can help yourself, those you work with, and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a person who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Again, 80% of all infectious diseases are spread by hands.

Make hand washing a habit for healthy living!

Ramona Hunt, M.S.

Director of Leadership and Development
Touching Hearts, Inc.

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