National Hand Washing Awareness Week

Wash your hands graphic

December 1-7 is National Hand Washing Awareness Week. It’s never been more important to wash your hands often and properly. That’s because 80% of communicable diseases can be transferred by touch (person-to-person contact). And, touching your own face with unwashed hands spreads sicknesses including pneumonia, colds, the flu, and now coronavirus. In short, washing hands helps keep you healthy and saves lives.

Why National Hand Washing Awareness Week

National Hand Washing Awareness Week—sponsored by Henry the Hand Foundation—reminds us to be vigilant about hand washing, especially this time of year because it’s cold and flu season, and the number of coronavirus cases continue to climb at an even faster pace than at the beginning of the pandemic. Making a habit of good hand hygiene is an easy, effective way to prevent infections and sicknesses.

The proper way to wash your hands

A quick rinse does not get rid of germs as effectively as a long, thorough scrub. Instead, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended steps every time you wash up:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
  2. Lather up!
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Thoroughly dry your hands.

No soap and water?

If you don’t have soap and water handy, there are other ways of sanitizing your hands. Squirt a dime-sized amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rub it on your hands and between your fingers for a germ-killing spree. Experts with the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC agree that hand sanitizer isn’t an equal substitute but good in a pinch when soap and water are not available. Remember that these are mostly alcohol and can dry out your skin. Wash with soap and water whenever you can, and supplement your hand cleaning behavior with sanitizers, when needed. Moisturize often to keep your hands happy!

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