Many People Fail to Properly Wash Their Hands
The end of the year is particularly busy for most families. After all, the bulk of the holiday season occurs in December. Many families are celebrating Christmas, and they also have New Year’s Eve to look forward to, as well. You and your family may be incredibly busy, getting your holiday shopping out of the way and preparing for the new year. It can be understandable that during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many people forget to wash their hands.
Unfortunately, failing to wash your hands consistently throughout the day can be dangerous to your health and the health of your family. Handwashing helps prevent you and your children from getting sick and stopping the spread of germs. No one wants to be sick over the holidays. That is why the Henry the Hand Foundation sponsors National Handwashing Awareness Week during the first week of December every year.
This year, National Handwashing Awareness Week occurs during December 1 through 7. The week is a time to spread knowledge about the importance of washing your hands. The goal of this week is to decrease the spread of infectious disease and to encourage families and communities across the country to educate and protect their communities.
Tots N Teens Pediatrics wants to encourage you and your families to take a proactive approach in protecting yourself over the holidays. After all, no one wants to spend the holidays sick. To celebrate National Handwashing Awareness Week, we would like to share some important handwashing facts with you.
Washing your hands with soap is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs this holiday season and throughout the entire year. Countless diseases that can seriously threaten your health are easily preventable through handwashing.
Roughly 1.8 million children under the age of 5 die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia every year. These are two of the top causes of death for children globally. Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, and the flu are all common illnesses that can be spread through hand-to-hand contact. However, they can also be prevented by washing your hands.
Tots N Teens Pediatrics would like to provide some facts highlighting the importance of handwashing, including:
- The number of people who get sick with diarrhea is reduced by as much as 40%
- Handwashing reduces the number of respiratory illnesses by as much as 21%
- Absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness is reduced by 29-57%
- Roughly 80% of communicable diseases are spread through touch
- Less than 75% of women and 50% of men wash their hands after using the restroom
- Drying your hands is very important, as damp hands are 1000 times more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands
- When you flush a toilet with the lid up, a mist is spread through the air, covering 6 square meters including 90% of sinks
Surprisingly, many people do not wash their hands after they use the restroom. Merely educating your peers and children about the importance of handwashing can drastically decrease the spread of disease.
When to Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is incredibly important for your overall health. It helps prevent illnesses and the spread of diseases. We would like to take National Handwashing Awareness Week to highlight important times when you should always wash your hands:
- Before, during, and after food preparation
- After touching an animal, their food, or their waste
- Before and after eating food
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before and after treating a cut or scratch
- After caring for someone who is sick, such as those with diarrhea or the flu
- After changing a diaper
It’s important to always make a habit of washing your hands after these instances. If you are a parent, it’s important to instill these habits in your children to keep them safe. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to get the optimal level of protection.
How to Wash Your Hands
While it may seem obvious, many people don’t wash their hands the way they should. Many people across the country wash their hands with only water, but they fail to use soap. However, whenever you thoroughly wash your hands with soap, you effectively remove more germs from your hands.
Washing your hands is very simple and, as we mentioned early, doesn’t take long. Here is the best way to practice handwashing:
- Wet: To start, use clean, running water to get your hands wet. Once wet, turn the faucet off and apply soap.
- Lather: Once soap is on your hands, rub your hands together. Completely lather your entire hands, including the backs of them, between your fingers and under your nails.
- Scrub: Scrub your hands together for 20 seconds to reach the optimal time to effectively remove germs.
- Rinse: After you’ve scrubbed your hands for 20 seconds, rinse your hands with clean, running water.
- Dry: This step is important. We mentioned earlier how damp hands are more likely to spread bacteria than dry hands. Use a clean towel to thoroughly dry your hands.
If soap and water are not readily available to you, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, it’s important to remember that these sanitizers do not remove all germs. They also aren’t the best to clean hands that are visibly dirty or greasy. Washing your hands with soap and water is the best ways to properly clean them.
December and the holiday season can be an incredibly busy time of year for most families. Between traveling, shopping for presents, and getting ready for the new year, many people tend to forget to take the time to wash their hands. However, this simple process can help protect yourself and your family by stopping the spread of dangerous germs. That is why National Handwashing Awareness Week was established. Tots N Teens Pediatrics is here to ensure that you and your family stay healthy throughout the entire year.