NHM Health Focus: Handwashing
Handwashing is a simple habit that can help keep you healthy.
While handwashing is not the whole story, we can reduce our chances of contracting and spreading colds, the flu and other infectious diseases if we wash our hands more frequently and keep them away from mouth, nose and eyes between washings. Yet many people continue to disregard this advice and unnecessarily catch and spread disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that:
"Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others," and when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you should wash for 20 seconds, about the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice! (CDC)
"...in addition to colds, some pretty serious diseases -- like hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea -- can easily be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands." (GBCNV)
"Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces for between 2 and 8 hours." (CDC)
"Proper hand-washing could eliminate close to half of all cases
of foodborne illness." (FDA)
"A study of 305 school children found that youngsters who washed their hands 4 times a day had 24% fewer sick days due to respiratory illness and 51% fewer days due to upset stomach." (FDA)
Results of a new survey show many people still arent washing their hands in public places, exposing others to the risk of infection, despite recent outbreaks of infectious diseases. (WashUp.org
"Women wash their hands more often than men (90% versus 75%)." (WashUp.org)
The activities listed below demonstrate to participants that proper washing removes unseen particles, including disease causing agents, from their hands.
Activities and Experiments
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these additional resources related to handwashing and disease prevention.