National Handwashing Week!

December 4-10 is National Handwashing Week!

Percentage of people who said they wash their hands after using a public restroom VS. percentage who actually did:     MEN:  92%  vs. 58%        WOMEN:  97%  vs. 75%

As our Infection Control Officer says over, and over, and over again hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of infection! Here at Power County Hospital, all our employees have several in-service hours on infection control and we even dedicate this entire week to the topic of hand washing alone! Preventing the spread of infection is imperative to protecting ourselves and our patients. As we are now in the midst of the cold and flu season it is even more important for our staff and our community to practice good hand washing to prevent the spread of germs and help keep us all healthier this year.

First, infections do not jump from surface to surface on their own. There has to be a means of doing that, usually it’s by us or the daily objects we use. Amazingly, about 80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by touch. This contact can be direct, such as somebody coughing on us or kissing. We can also get infections from indirect contact, such as when a person sneezes into their hands and then we shake their hand and then inadvertently touch our faces.

Proper and frequent hand washing is the single best thing that you can do to prevent the spread of infections like colds or flu. “It’s like a do-it-yourself vaccine” as the CDC puts it! This is a particularly important lesson to teach children early on. Good hand washing techniques are easy to learn and can reduce the spread of infectious diseases among our family, coworkers, and friends. Follow these simple steps, to ensure the job is done right:

  1. Wet your hands.
  2. Apply soap and work it into a lather. Be sure to get your wrist, between your fingers, and under nails. Vigorous rubbing should last 20 seconds (sing the alphabet).
  3. Rinse hands with water.
  4. Use a paper towel to thoroughly dry your hands.
  5. Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet AND to open the bathroom door.

Hand sanitizers can also be used in many instances. The exception is when your hands have a body fluid on them or are visibly dirty. To properly use hand sanitizers, be sure to wet your hands with the product. Rub your hands as if you were using soap and water, and don’t stop rubbing until your hands are completely dry. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

We hope you will remember to do proper hand washing along with basic precautions, like getting the flu vaccine to help keep you and your family healthier during this cold and flu season. For further information on proper hand washing and infection control, we also recommend checking out the CDC’s website HERE for great information on handwashing tips, videos, and information.