The holiday season is just around the corner and people of all ages are eagerly looking forward to reuniting with loved ones for festive meals and celebrations. Thanks to progress in the fight against COVID-19, health officials now say it’s safe for fully vaccinated groups to gather in person.
Chief among the CDC’s guidelines for safeguarding our health this holiday season is practicing correct handwashing techniques. Studies show that frequent, proper handwashing can significantly reduce the spread of infection—including respiratory illness.
National Handwashing Awareness Week
To shine a spotlight on the importance of handwashing, the first full week of December (December 5-11) has been designated National Handwashing Awareness Week. This annual event, sponsored by the Henry the Hand Foundation, promotes four basic principles, which are also endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians:
- Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.
- Do not cough into your hands
- Do not sneeze into your hands.
- Do not put your fingers into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Wash your hands – the right way!
To help prevent the spread of germs, the CDC advises frequent handwashing using the following procedure:
- Wet hands with clean running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between fingers, and under nails.
- Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse hands under clean, running water.
- Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry.
Back it up with hand sanitizer.
According to the CDC, washing hands with both soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. However, if soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Be sure to apply enough sanitizer on your hands to cover all surfaces.
- Rub hands together until they feel dry (approximately 20 seconds).
- Do NOT rinse or wipe off hand sanitizer before it’s fully dry as this may reduce its effectiveness against germs.
Give the gift of health.
There are so many ways to honor the season—and so many ways to show appreciation to one another. But no matter how we choose to celebrate, it’s a wonderful opportunity to think about ways to safeguard our own health and that of our friends and loved ones. Practicing proper hand-washing techniques is one simple step we can take to help make the holidays safe and enjoyable. It may turn out to be one of the most meaningful gifts we give this season.
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