It’s Global Handwashing Day! Spread the Word, Not the Germs

October 15, 2009

Handwashing

Today we have a guest blog by Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University, a leading hygiene expert and a member of the Tork Green Hygiene Council (TGHC.) Tork created the TGHC to assist in its commitment to providing environmentally friendly and hygienic away-from-home washroom solutions and to make the world a greener, cleaner place to live and work. Tork is a Green Team Leader sponsor of HSC's Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools.

Teachers and students around the world are being reminded of proper hygiene techniques on October 15, Global Handwashing Day. With flu season beginning and concerns regarding the H1N1 virus top of mind for parents and schools, advice from authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the same: good hand hygiene is a powerful public health preventative measure.
 
Despite this advice, a new Harris poll, commissioned by SCA Tissue North America’s Tork® brand, shows:

  • Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults won’t be washing their hands more frequently this flu season and
  • Forty-eight percent of U.S. adults are not planning to take advantage of available flu shots

Considering that we use our hands for almost everything and that the flu virus can live for up to eight hours on common surfaces like faucets and door handles, it’s especially important to teach students proper hand hygiene techniques early on to ensure healthy, lifelong handwashing habits.
 
To celebrate Global Handwashing Day, below are some handwashing tips and advice to help keep our students and teachers healthy and safe.
 
When should students, faculty and staff members wash their hands?
Good hand hygiene is especially important during flu seasons and during school hours. Students, faculty and staff members must wash their hands often and dry them thoroughly. If available, an instant hand sanitizer can be a good supplement between washes. To prevent infection and cross-contamination, wash hands:

  • After arriving at school.
  • Before meals or eating any food.
  • After visiting the restroom.
  • After sneezing.
  • After coughing.
  • Before preparing food.
  • Before and after visiting a sick person.
  • After arriving home.
  • When hands are visibly dirty.

After washing and drying hands, be sure students, faculty and staff members:

  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact such as shaking hands, especially with people who are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze against their sleeve or in a paper tissue that is then thrown in a waste basket.

The best way to wash and dry hands:
Hands are full of surfaces that can be difficult to reach, which means that many tend to forget certain parts. When using a public washroom, handwashing should take as long as singing “Happy Birthday” twice. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Wet hands with clean warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces for 20 seconds. Remember to wash both thumbs as thumbs are quite often skipped in the handwashing process!
  4. Make sure to wash under nails, watches and jewelry since millions of germs gather there.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. When at school, a single-use paper towel ensures that hands can be completely dried and virtually germ free.
  7. Use the paper towel to avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces when leaving the washroom, such as the faucet and door handles.
  8. Since hands are to be washed frequently, use mild and gentle soaps.

Happy handwashing!