By: Katie Burns Date: 12/08/09
While it may seem silly and unnecessary to have a whole week devoted to the importance of hand washing, findings from the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2009 Food & Health Survey shows that the number of Americans who wash their hands when handling food (cooking, preparing, or consuming) has decreased significantly from 2008! Couple those findings with the seasonal flu and increased concern regarding the H1N1 Influenza and it becomes clear that we need a little reminder to wash our hands properly and often. The Mayo Clinic actually provides a guide to hand washing, as it is an important step in reducing the risk of contamination when handling food and spreading infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has resources on handwashing and its importance at reducing the risk of spreading germs or getting sick.
A little refresher on proper hand washing technique:
Wet hands with warm water.
Lather by rubbing hands together.
Rub hands together for about how long it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Be sure to clean the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers, and under fingernails.
Rinse all of the soap and soap bubbles off hands with running water.
Dry hands thoroughly.
What about alcohol-based hand sanitizers?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be found nearly everywhere nowadays (I actually saw a bottle at the gas station!), and they are effective at killing germs that may cause illness. However, these hand sanitizers are not appropriate if you can see that your hands are dirty, and the Partnership for Food Safety Education encourages that you wash your hands with soap and water when handling food. In these cases especially, head to the sink!
This week’s call to action
I know that I often do not want to take the time to step away from whatever I’m doing to wash my hands, so I depend heavily on alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, I hereby resolve to heed the call this National Handwashing Awareness Week to be more aware and wash my hands with soap and water more frequently. I encourage you to do the same, and remind family, friends, and co-workers to wash up, too!
How often do you wash your hands in a given day?