Sunday, April 18

National Hand Washing Awareness Week December 4-10, 2011

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Celebrate Global Hand Washing Day!









The simple act of washing your hands can keep you from infecting your family, having to use sick days, miss work or even miss out on a family activity. When done correctly, washing your hands is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of germs. And although we often think of washing our hands as a simple activity we do when our hands are dirty or before a meal, the steps we take during this simple 20-second process can save lives, prevent illness and even save money. Annually in the United States, there are about 5,000 deaths due to food borne illness. And on average, one in three people do not wash their hands after using the restroom. If you have interactions with everyday items – door knobs, remotes, phones, keys and people – then washing your hands needs to be frequent activity throughout your day.

Global Hand Washing Day is a way to support a global and local culture of hand washing with soap, shine a spotlight on the state of hand washing in each country, and raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap.  It has been celebrated on October 15th worldwide each year since 2008 by school children, teachers, families, and others, and was established by the Global Public Private Partnership for hand washing with Soap.

Hand Washing Saves Lives:
Did you know that the very simple activity of frequent hand washing has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention?  It is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhea, heal diseases and pneumonia, which cause more than 3.5 million deaths worldwide in children under the age of 5 every year.  Although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands.

In 2010, Global Hand Washing Day was recognized in the following ways:

  • In China, approximately 30,000 children in >600 schools participated in week-long activities including educational lessons, hand washing demonstrations, drawing and essay competitions, and speeches about hand washing.
  • In Burkina Faso, 48 hand washing stations were constructed using recycled materials and installed throughout 2 rural communities. Community members were educated about hand washing technique and key times to wash hands.
  • In Hungary, children in 280 schools participated in hand washing-related drama, songs, soap making, and a hand washing rap contest.
  • In Iraq, approximately 30,000 school children learned about hand washing-related health benefits and hand washing technique.
  • In Peru, the Ministry of Education mandated schools’ participation in Global Hand Washing Day activities; they anticipated 10,000 schools would celebrate.

Photo: Washing hands with soap and water.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • 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 touching garbage

Photo: Washihing hands.

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing 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 running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry.

Photo: Using hand sanitizer

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water  are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.

Hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

How should you use hand sanitizer?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

For more information on hand washing, please visit CDC’s Hand Washing website.