Do You Know the Four Principles of Hand Awareness?


family washing hands

Never underestimate the power of clean hands! Hand hygiene is a vital way to prevent the spread of many types of infections and illnesses in all settings and in people of all ages. In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week, observed the first week of December each year, let’s learn about the four principles of hand awareness.

Clean Hands Mean Better Health

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By following the four principles of hand awareness – which have been endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians – you can protect yourself and those you love from disease and even death.

  1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating. A large percentage of infectious diseases are transferred from person to person by germs which get onto the hands. Washing your hands often with soap and clean, running water will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Learn 10 handwashing do’s and don’ts.
  2. Do not cough into hands. Respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and flu are spread when you cough into your hands and then touch other objects. Covering your cough with an elbow or tissue greatly reduces the number of germs that spread to people and objects around you.
  3. Do not sneeze into hands. Similarly, sneezing into your hands facilitates the spread of germs to other surfaces. However, sneezing spreads far more germs than a cough. While about 3,000 droplets of saliva are expelled with the average cough, nearly 100,000 drops may be ejected by a sneeze!
  4. Don’t put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth. The thin mucous membranes lining the eyes, mouth and nasal passages are much more susceptible to infection by germs, therefore putting germ-covered fingers in direct contact with these areas makes you much more vulnerable to disease.

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