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Tis the season to be jolly, not germy!

Environmental Health Specialist Sydney Rose
by Sydney Rose12/03/2019 3:15 p.m.
Updated: 12/03/2019

The holidays are when you shop, enjoy great food, and spend time with family. But nothing spoils a family gathering faster like coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea! One way to keep you and your family healthy this season is proper handwashing.

National Handwashing Awareness Week: Dec. 1-7, 2019

A whole week to celebrate handwashing? Yes! The bottom line is handwashing saves lives. The idea to wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs didn’t come about until the mid-1800s. A doctor in Austria found handwashing reduced the infant mortality rate in his hospital from 26 percent to just 3 percent. But it still took decades for medical doctors to adopt strict handwashing practices.

Today, handwashing is the easiest step anyone can take to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. Diarrheal diseases and pneumonia kill 1.8 million children under the age of five around the world every year. But handwashing with soap prevents 1 out of every 3 diarrheal illnesses and 1 out of 5 respiratory infections like pneumonia among young children worldwide.

You may not be able to dodge holiday hugs and kisses, but you can help prevent the spread of germs—with handwashing.

A graphic illustrating that you should remember to wash your hands after you cough, use the bathroom or get dirty, and before you eat or prepare food.

Wash your hands often.

Most people know to wash after using the restroom, but germs are everywhere! Wash your hands:

  • After you use the restroom—every time.
  • After you touch items that can transfer disease—vomit, diarrhea, diapers, etc.
  • Before, during and after you prepare food, especially raw meats.
  • Before you to eat.
  • After you handle money, garbage, or dirty dishes.
  • After you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze.
  • Whenever your hands are dirty.

Give them a good scrub.

It’s important to wash your hands properly. Remember these 5 easy steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, warm water.
  2. Apply plenty of soap.
  3. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Be sure to get your wrists, back of your hands, fingertips, and under your nails. Bacteria love to hide. Sing your favorite Christmas song to mark those 20 seconds rather than counting!
  4. Rinse your hands with warm water.
  5. Dry your hands with an air dryer, paper towel, or clean cloth towel.

Now that you are a handwashing expert, let’s spread only joy and not germs this wonderful time of year. Happy handwashing this holiday season!

  1. Updated: 12/11/2019
Environmental Health Specialist Sydney Rose

by Sydney Rose

Sydney inspects food establishments to make sure everything you eat is safe.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.