Studies show that an easy action that takes just 20 seconds can cut your risk of catching a cold, flu or other contagious disease by up to 51%. The studies also show that, if everyone made it a regular habit, one million deaths a year would be prevented. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states this habit is the single most important way to avoid spreading infection.
You probably already know what the study and the CDC are talking about. Frequent hand washing with soap and water can save you money and misery by helping you avoid medical bills, missed workdays or having to stay home with a sick child. You'll also protect your friends and family. A CDC survey found that 40 million Americans a year fall prey to illnesses spread by hands which can harbor up to 500,000 bacteria per square centimeter.
CLEAN HANDS SAVE LIVES!
Not only does lathering up protect you from respiratory illnesses like colds, but it also helps ward off more serious conditions including hepatitis A, meningitis and potentially life-threatening superbug infections such as MRSA (staph).
Overall, 80% of all infectious diseases are spread by touch!
Research Findings on The Protective Power of Clean Hands
1 - Kids, who washed their hands four times a day had 25% fewer school absences due to contagious disease and 57% fewer sick days due to GI bugs.
2 - When 40,000 Navy recruits were instructed to wash their hands five times a day, their rate of respiratory infections fell by 45%, according to a study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
3 - A 2011 study found that when students disinfected their hands three times a day with ethanol gel sanitizer, there was a 66% drop in pupils who missed four or more days due to illness and a 20% rise in students with zero absences, compared to data from the previous year.
4 - Hand washing reduces risk for colds and other respiratory illnesses by 21%. according to the CDC.
5 - Washing with soap and water lowers risk for diarrhea and severe or fatal intestinal infections by up to 59%, a systematic review published in Lancet reported.
Follow These Simple Steps To Stay Healthy
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and remove jewelry. Removing jewelry lowers levels of staph bacteria.
& Lather up with soap. Avoid antibacterial products which don't work any better than regular soap according to Mayo Clinic. They can (and have) led to bacteria becoming resistant to that anti-microbial ingredient.
& Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds. To get the timing right, kids can recite the alphabet as they scrub. Pay equal attention to all surfaces of both hands. Research shows that righties don't wash their right hand as carefully as their left and vice versa for lefties. Fingernails and fingertips typically harbor the most micro-organisms.
& Rinse thoroughly under running water letting the force of the stream sweep dirt and germs down the drain. Be sure to dry well which helps rub away remaining microbes. A study published in Epidemiology and Infection found that when people touched someone else with freshly washed, but damp hands, they transferred a whopping 68,000 micro-organisms compared to just 140 when their hands were dry.
& Soap and water is best. Hand sanitizers, containing at least 60% alcohol, can do in a pinch, but they don't eliminate all types of germs like soap will.
I was amazed to learn!
91% of Americans say they wash their hands after using a public toilet but an observational study conducted in six US airports found that only 26% of men and 17% of women actually did.
It is something to remember before you shake someone's hand during the cold and flu season.
Hand hygiene among doctors is even worse with 73% of pediatric ICU physicians claiming that they soaped up between patients, but when the MDs were secretly observed, only 10% actually washed.
If doctors and nurses were more diligent about hand hygiene, up to 80,000 Americans lives would be saved each year.
Don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider if they washed their hands.
To stay healthy and avoid spreading germs to others, the CDC recommends washing your hands before and after preparing food, before eating, after changing diapers or using the toilet, after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose, after touching an animal and after touching garbage.