Washing hands can help you avoid getting sick

December 4, 2013

It’s that time of year again. Everyone around you seems to be sneezing, coughing and feeling feverish. How can you avoid from joining the sickly crowd?

The most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands, says the Centers for Disease Control, so it’s no coincidence that this week is National Hand Washing Week.

About 80 percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. Judicious hand washing can prevent not only common diseases like colds, but also more serious diseases like hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea.

“National Hand Washing Week is a great opportunity to promote prevention,” said Jan Jowitt, Director of Nursing Services and Infection Control Officer for UNT Health, the physicians group at UNT Health Science Center. “Good hand hygiene is one of the most important techniques of illness prevention. Clean hands are happy hands.”

Six Rules of Hand Washing

  • Always wash hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets or handling money.
  • Wash hands when they’re dirty.
  • Always wash hands before eating.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • Don’t put fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands.

Correct way to wash hands

  1. Wet hands with warm water (not hot) and use soap.
  2. Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
  3. Rub for a minimum of 15 seconds or sing “Happy Birthday.”
  4. Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
  5. Turn faucet off with the towel, not hands, to prevent recontamination.

By the numbers:

  • 2/3 of adults in the U.S. wash hands after using the bathroom.
  • 1 in 4 adults don’t wash hands after changing diapers.
  • Less than 1/2 of Americans wash hands after cleaning up after pets.
  • 1 in 3 wash hands after sneezing/coughing.
  • Less than 1 in 5 wash hands after touching money.
  • 1 in 3 E. coli occurrences is caused by not washing hands before handling food.

Video: More tips to help stop the spread of illness

 
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