The first week in December marks Handwashing Awareness Week. Developing and educating everyone of all ages about proper hand hygiene is even more impactful during COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.”
CDC science and statistic shows:
Washing hands prevents illnesses and spread of infections to others
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. This helps prevent infections because:
- People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth and make us sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.
- Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, tabletops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands.
- Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections.
Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community:
- Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%
- Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
- Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%
- Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%
It’s never too late to get into good handwashing habits. Remember to wash your hands before and after touchpoints such as:
- After using the bathroom
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child 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
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