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For Release: Nov. 30, 2010
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Your Good Health is in Your Clean Hands! 
National Handwashing Awareness Week is December 5-11, 2010

Good hand cleaning, also called hand hygiene, is the first protection against the spread of many illnesses.  Even when your hands look clean, they may carry germs that can enter your body and possibly cause you to become ill when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, or any broken skin.  Germs found on your hands can cause many illnesses such as common colds, influenza (flu), skin infections such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) as well as more serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchitis, hepatitis A, and many types of diarrhea.  

What is the best way to clean your hands?  Germs multiply quickly on your skin and hands, so cleaning your hands well and often is important.  Use one of these methods to remove germs from your hands:

  • Wash hands with soap and water to physically remove dirt and germs.  This is the only way to clean hands that are visibly soiled. First, wet your hands with warm water, then use liquid or clean bar soap to work up a lather.  Rub your hands together vigorously for at least 15 to 20 seconds to remove the “dirt”.  Remember to scrub your nail areas, thumbs, wrists and back of hands because these areas are often forgotten.  Finish by rinsing your hands well, then drying with a clean towel.  In public areas, protect your clean hands by using the paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door.
  • Your hands can look clean, but germs can still be present.  In these cases, you can choose to disinfect your hands using an alcohol-based hand product such as a gel or foam.  Check the label to be sure the product contains between 60 and 95 percent alcohol.  Alcohol-based hand products only work on hands that appear to be clean because they cannot remove “dirt”.  Use enough of the product to thoroughly moisten your hands, and then rub it in until your hands are dry. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is using National Handwashing Awareness Week, Dec. 5-11, 2010, as an opportunity to remind everyone to wash your hands, especially:

  • Before, during and after you prepare food
  • Before you eat
  • Before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Before you insert or remove contact lenses
  • Before and after using sports/fitness equipment
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After you blow your nose or cough or sneeze into your hands
  • After you use the bathroom or change a diaper
  • After handling uncooked foods, especially meat, poultry or fish
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After you handle garbage or dirty laundry
  • More often when someone in your home is sick
  • Whenever your hands are dirty

To prevent disease all year long, remember to wash your hands often and encourage your family members and coworkers to do the same.

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