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National hand washing awareness

December 10, 2011
Reinbeck Courier

Germs live virtually everywhere. If you have not cleaned your hands in the last few minutes, you may assume that you are carrying germs. Germs are easy to spread with a simple hand shake, or touching an object that has been touched by someone else. We get ill when we pick up germs and then touch a mucous membrane such as wiping our nose, rubbing our eyes, or using our hands to put something in our mouths.

It is no coincidence that National Hand Washing Awareness Week (December 4-10) falls in the middle of cold and flu season. Cross contamination of infection from one person to another, is preventable in many cases, by following a few simple practices.

Wash hands often for approximately 15 seconds.

Antibacterial hand sanitizer's offer a great alternative when soap and running water are not available.

Sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand.

Cover your cough with a tissue or use your elbow instead of your hand.

Wash after blowing your nose and dispose of tissues in an appropriate place.

Wash after using the restroom, and use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

Disposable towels are more effective than hand dryers because they add additional friction to remove germs.

If someone is ill in your home, wash your hands more often, and give every person their own hand towel.

Wash your hands after handling pets, pet dishes, and pet waste.

Grundy County Memorial Hospital (GCMH) places high importance on cleaning hands to protect patients from coming into contact with new germs. Soap and water, and antibacterial hand sanitizers are widely available in the hospital for staff, patients, and visitors to use. They make it a practice to clean hands before and after touching patients or their surroundings. The most difficult thing to overcome is the fact that people believe that other people carry germs, but they do not carry germs themselves. The bottom line is, the more often we clean our hands, the healthier we will be through cold and flu season.

For more information on hand washing or infection control, please contact Beth Johanns, RN, at (319) 824-4138. For information about GCMH services, please visit or call (319) 824-5421.



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