With the rush of the holidays, end-of-the-year excitement and turn in the weather, it’s easy to become run down and exhausted — perfect conditions for illness to take hold.

South Central Kansas Medical Center logoWhen one’s system is compromised, it’s extra important to stay healthy by avoiding germs, and the best way to do that is by washing hands.

Dec. 4-10 is National Hand-Washing Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to “decrease the spread of infectious diseases by empowering individuals to educate and help protect their communities,” according to the American Cleaning Institute.

Washing hands is one of the most effective and simple ways to decrease one’s risk of flu, other viruses and the common cold.

Most people are good about washing their hands when they use the restroom or are about to prepare food, but there are many other moments throughout the day when a good washing will go a long way.

For example, when caring for someone who is sick, treating a wound, cleaning up after a child or changing a diaper, having contact with animals or their waste, or just taking out the trash, people absolutely should wash their hands.

All of these everyday activities could spread germs and disease, so be sure to wash up!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline the five steps to proper hand-washing. They are:

  1. Wet hands with clean, running water — warm or cold — turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while washing.
  4. Rinse hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

The American Cleaning Institute has some great resources that all are free for the taking. Download them at www.cleaninginstitute.org.

Its offerings include webinars, infographics, activity and coloring sheets for younger kids, brochures and fact sheets for adults, and posters that people can print out and hang to remind others of this important week.

This information was provided by South Central Kansas Medical Center Marketing Director Clayton Pappan.