December 4-10 is National Handwashing Awareness Week. While handwashing may seem second nature to you, it only takes a visit to a public restroom to remind us that many Americans choose to ignore the simple principles of basic hygiene.
Handwashing is not only sanitary; it is the best way to stay healthy. Imagine if you could prevent flu-like illnesses, RSV, the common cold, bronchitis, strep throat, and pneumonia just by washing your hands. The reality is that you can! Because infectious disease enters your body through the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth, you have the power of prevention in your own two hands. Some communicable diseases specifically affect your eyesight. Commonly known as pink eye, conjunctivitis can have many forms, but viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that handwashing is the single most effective way to prevent the transmission of disease, but we are just not washing our hands often enough. Washing your hands after the restroom or before preparing a meal is a good start, but you should follow these 4 Principles of Hand Awareness to prevent respiratory diseases and eye disease:
- Wash your hands when they are dirty or before eating.
- Do not cough into your hands.
- Do not sneeze into your hands.
- Do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.
Follow the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness to stay well all winter long. When everyone around you is coughing and reaching for the tissues, you can be in virtual isolation from all the germs around you. To learn more about National Handwashing Awareness Week, go to www.henrythehand.com. A cute yellow hand named Henry will point you to helpful resources to educate people in your home, office or classroom about proper handwashing and illness prevention.