Wash Your Hands; Reducing spread of disease while at home and work
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that nearly 90,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals each year due to a preventable disease – many could be avoided if everyone properly washed their hands.
From germs on office equipment to sick colleagues who decided to come into work anyway, people face the same dangers in the workplace. The same simple fact holds true: Washing your hands regularly is an effective way to prevent yourself from catching or spreading a preventable disease or illness.
When to wash your hands
The CDC recommends washing your hands every time you:
- Prepare or eat food
- Use the restroom
- Tend to someone who is sick; both before and after
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze
- Handle garbage
- Treat a cut or wound
- Change diaper or clean up after children
- Handle an animal or animal waste
Hand washing basics
The CDC has issued specific guidelines about effective hand washing:
- Wet hands with water
- Use plain bar or liquid soap
- Create a lather by vigorously rubbing hands together for 15-20 seconds—about the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice
- Be sure to wash palms, back of hands, fingers, and nails (clean nails by gently scratching nails down your opposing soapy palm)
- Rinse off soap under a stream of water
What else can you do?
- Focus on hand washing in the lunch and/or break room
- Be careful when using sponges and dish towels. These are ideal sites for bacterial growth. Always wash your hands after using these items.
- Maintain a clean work area; regularly clean any office equipment, especially shared items such as phones and keyboards.
- Remind your colleagues of the importance of hand washing, particularly when you witness someone neglecting to wash his or her hands.
For more information
To learn more about how washing hands regularly can help prevent disease, ask your health care provider, or visit the CDC’s creative Web site dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of hand washing at www.henrythehand.com.