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Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness to others. Despite the importance of how people should wash hands many young and old forget. Germs are tiny microorganisms that exist all around us and are invisible to the human eye.

They are different types of germs and how long they can live on the surfaces. These germs are on handles, door, keyboards, cell phones, shopping carts and most things we touch daily. Touching one of these contaminated surfaces then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, a cut, or other opening in the body, can lead to an infectious disease.

Some germs live in body fluids like mucus, pus, and stool. Even the invisible drops released when people talk, cough, sneeze can carry germs. Some germs spread through the air when some one coughs or sneezes they can release germs. When harmful germs are inhaled, they can cause illness.

Communicable diseases are ones that we can spread from one person to another. Handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (think Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrhea and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. There are many vaccines to help us prevent many of these infectious diseases but for other illnesses the number one way to for prevention is HANDWASHING!

Start with Healthy Preventative Habits:

  • Wash Hands often. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available. Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Rinse hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet. hands
  • Wash hands after using bathroom, playing with pets, being outside
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve- don’t cough into the air or on your hands
  • Handle and prepare food safely
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Don’t share personal items … like drinking from the same cup.

 Get Immunized: A process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. Protect yourself, your family, and friends.

Remember Handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness to others. Reducing illness increases productivity, less time at doctor appointments and more time at work or school. Protect yourself today get immunized and wash your hands!

Writer: Marie Economos, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Western Reserve EERA, economos.2@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Resources:

Center for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/

Ohio Department of Health: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/handwashing.aspx

 

 

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