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Why is hand washing so important?



Did you know that 1,000,000,000,000 germs can live in one gram of poop (about the size of a small paperclip)? Or that every sneeze can spread thousands of bacteria-filled droplets onto hands and into the air? These microscopic factoids may make you queasy, but there’s a simple way you can help prevent the spread of germs — wash your hands! Did you know you just need 20 seconds with soap and warm water to kill bacteria?

Hand washing is one of the easiest steps we can take to protect ourselves from getting sick or spreading germs to others; yet many of us don’t do it often enough. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, hand washing is the single most effective way to stop the spread of disease. So if it’s that easy, why not start today? Here are the basics.

When to wash your hands:

  • Before eating food.
  • After using the toilet.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • After sneezing, coughing, or wiping your nose.
  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • After touching garbage.
  • After handling animals, animal food, or animal waste.
  • And many more!

Why to wash your hands:

  • According to the World Health Organization, proper hand-washing could save more lives around the world than any vaccine or other medical intervention.
  • Almost 50 percent of all foodborne illness outbreaks can be prevented by proper hand-washing.
  • Each year, 76 million cases of diarrhea and upset stomach can be prevented in the U.S.
  • Germs are sneaky, and can survive for hours on anything you touch.

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet hands with warm water.
  • Lather your hands with soap. Make sure to get the fronts, backs, under nails, and in between the cracks.
  • Scrub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds (hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice).
  • Rinse your hands with clean water.
  • Dry hands using a clean towel.

Hand washing is important and can help to keep our friends, family, and community germ free. Next time you visit the bathroom, hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice and see if you have been washing your hands long enough!