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Handwashing Awareness

Handwashing: The Best Way to Prevent the Spread of Germs

National Handwashing Week is celebrated in the United States during the first full week of December. It is a time to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing and to teach people how to wash their hands effectively.

Handwashing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Germs can be found on all sorts of surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, and countertops. When we touch these surfaces and then touch our eyes, nose, or mouth, we can transfer germs to our bodies and get sick.

When to Wash

Handwashing with soap and water removes germs from our hands and prevents them from spreading. It is especially important to wash our hands at certain times, such as:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing our nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After changing a diaper
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
washing hands

Effective Handwashing

To wash our hands effectively, we should follow these five steps:

  1. Wet our hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather our hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of our hands, between our fingers, and under our nails.
  3. Scrub our hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  4. Rinse our hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
  5. Dry our hands with a clean towel or air dry them.

Teaching Children the Importance of Handwashing

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and others from getting sick. By following the five steps above, we can all help to keep our communities healthy.

kids washing hands

In honor of National Handwashing Week 2023, here are some tips for teaching your children about the importance of handwashing:

  • Make handwashing a fun activity. Sing a song or play a game while you wash your hands together.
  • Encourage your children to wash their hands throughout the day, especially at the key times listed above.
  • Place handwashing reminders in your home, such as a sign near the sink or a sticker on the bathroom mirror.
  • Make sure your children have access to soap and water at all times.

By teaching your children about the importance of handwashing, you can help them to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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