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  • It's in Your Hands

    Lather up and reduce your risk.One simple act can prevent the spread of most diseases. Raise your hand if you know what it is.

    According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.

    Most diseases are spread through contact with body fluids. A good example is the common cold. If a person has a cold virus and touches his own mucous, even by simply blowing his nose, and then touches a door handle, the virus can live for a time on the handle. A non-infected person may open the door, touch her eyes inadvertently, and catch the same cold virus. The chance of infection would be substantially lower if both people washed their hands more frequently and were conscious of what they touched.

    Sound simple enough? Only 67 percent of Americans wash their hands with anything, even just water, after they use a restroom. In some parts of the country the number is less than 50 percent. This puts them and the rest of the population at risk for a host of infections, ranging from the common cold and flu, to skin infections, digestive viruses and even more serious diseases, such as hepatitis A.

    Reduce your risk

    Pay attention to what you touch and wash your hands immediately when in the following situations:

    • After you use a restroom
    • Before and after you eat
    • Before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth
    • Before and after you prepare food, and after you handle meat or fish, before moving on to other food items
    • After you change a diaper
    • After you pet a dog, cat or other animal
    • After you touch plants or soil
    • After you visit a hospital or nursing home
    • After you come in contact with any body fluids or touch items that may have come in contact with body fluids.

    Know the technique: Scrub your hands for 15 to 30 seconds with regular soap and water (it doesn't have to be antibacterial soap to work) before rinsing. Studies show it is the length of time spent washing, not the type of soap, that makes the difference.  Antibacterial waterless gels can be used if your skin is easily irritated or soap and water aren't readily available. 

    Kids tend to spread infections more readily. Teach your kids hand washing tips and techniques and set an example by following them yourself.