Hand Washing and Hygiene
In the United States:
- There are 52 million cases of the common cold each year
- 10-20 percent of Americans are infected with the flu virus
- Dogs have more than 100 different germs in their saliva at any given time
Statistics show that you have come in contact with at least one of these germs today.
Hand washing has proven to be the single most-effective way to prevent the spread of infection, ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses including diarrhea, meningitis and hepatitis A.
Hand Washing Facts and Figures
- One out of three Americans skips hand washing after using the restroom.
- Only 30 percent of people who have coughed or sneezed into their hands wash them afterwards.
- Computer keyboards can harbor dangerous germs for as long as 24 hours.
- Children who wash their hands at least four times a day experience 24 percent fewer sick days from colds and flu, and 51 percent fewer sick days due to stomach ailments.
Tips for Hand Washing/Hygiene
- Hand washing patterns are established within the first 10 years of life, so it is important to teach young children the proper way to wash their hands. Parents can insure they are washing for the correct amount of time by teaching them to sing the complete "Alphabet Song" once or “Happy Birthday” two complete times while washing their hands.
- If soap and water is not available and your hands are not visibly dirty, the use of an alcohol-based hand rub containing 60-95 percent isopropanol or ethanol is equally effective.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food, eating, treating wounds or giving medicine, touching a sick or injured person, or inserting or removing contact lenses. If your hands are not visibly dirty, instead of soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub before treating wounds or touching a sick or injured person.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after preparing food (especially raw meat or poultry), using the toilet, changing a diaper, touching an animal (or its toys, leash or waste), blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, treating wounds, touching a sick or injured person, or handling garbage that could be contaminated. If your hands are not visibly dirty, instead of soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand rub before treating wounds or touching a sick or injured person.