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Handwashing helps prevent us from getting sick

March 2, 2019 GMT

Handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many germs that can make people sick are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. Handwashing is especially important during key times, such as after using the bathroom or before preparing food.

Handwashing with soap is not only simple and inexpensive, but also can dramatically reduce the number of young children who get sick. Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community can:

• Reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by about 23-40 percent.

• Reduce diarrheal illness in people with HIV by about 58 percent.

• Reduce respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by about 16-21 percent.

Ways we can encourage proper handwashing, even though it may not be part of our job.

• Learning how to wash hands the right way with video demonstrations at cdc.gov.

• Joining the #HandwashingHeroes social media campaign and sharing a picture of you showing your clean hands.

• Sharing handwashing lessons, events, and materials to those in your community.

• Helping promote handwashing in your community with CDC resources and materials at cdc.gov.

• Order handwashing materials for FREE or download CDC’s handwashing posters

• Look for and use the hashtag #GlobalHandwashingDay, on Twitter and Facebook, and get a toolkit with educational social media messages. Source: CSC.gov

The flu season is still among us. Maintaining our efforts to practice good hand hygiene will be an important step to minimize the effects of illness and the duration of colds.

Julie Buck, EdD, RDN, is a registered dietitian, and Family and Consumer Sciences educator employed at the University of Idaho Extension, Bingham County. She can be reached at (208)785-8060 or jhbuck@uidaho.edu.