National Handwashing Awareness Week: COVID Spread And Hand Washing

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6 min readDec 2, 2021

By Dr. Celeste Holder

Wash Your Hands and Save The World (Image Source: Shutterstock)

“Wash your hands and save the world” might sound like an exaggeration, but COVID-19 has taught us all that it isn’t. This recent worldwide pandemic, associated tragedies, and consequent paradigm shifts have forced people to be more conscious about their hygiene. Now, instead of spreading germs this cold and flu season, many are spreading the message about the increased importance of handwashing. You too can participate in this revolution and to save lives by curbing the spread, and the perfect time to begin is during the National Handwashing Awareness Week. So gear up and get ready to ward off those nasty germs. But first, let’s solidify your roots and polish your shield before moving on to how you can help others.

The Importance of Handwashing

Your hands touch a lot of things on a daily basis. Table tops, pens, food, keyboards, cupboards, door knobs, books, taps — the list is seemingly endless. And unfortunately, more than a few not-so-friendly microscopic organisms thrive on these surfaces. When you don’t wash your hands frequently, you might end up ingesting these microbes, or giving them a free ride to infect open wounds, which is why reminders like National Handwashing Awareness Week must be taken seriously. Once they enter your body, the damage they cause can be irreversible. But wait, the worst is yet to come. Not only can they harm you, but they can also travel from you to other people. So proper handwashing can save not just you, but those around you as well from some serious diseases.

The Importance of Handwashing | ViewMedica

With the COVID-19 pandemic here to stay, the importance of handwashing has shot through the roof. The Center for Disease Control has issued strict guidelines for coronavirus prevention and an essential part of them is proper handwashing. But coronaviruses aren’t the only problem that dirty hands attract. Diarrhea is one of the biggest killers of children around the world, and it is something that can be easily avoided by practicing healthy hygiene. For doctors and healthcare workers, proper handwashing prevents nosocomial infections, or in other words, diseases that originate in hospitals. The importance of handwashing is not limited to adults and teens. In children under 5, handwashing can reduce risk of pneumonia by 5%.

Respiratory illnesses around the world can be brought down by at least 16% simply by spreading awareness about proper handwashing. Plus, there are more reasons than just slowing the rate of transmission for you to wash your hands. For example, you touch your face several times a day, such as after using your phone or while shopping, and that might just be the reason behind your acne. So now you have plenty of research to boost your National Handwashing Awareness Week activities.

How To Wash Your Hands Properly

Now that you know why proper handwashing is important, it’s time to learn how to do it. While sanitizers help, they are not enough. Plus, they give you dry itchy hands which can make you extremely uncomfortable. So what you truly need is soap and some water.

Wash Your Hands Properly (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Follow these 5 steps for proper handwashing:

  1. Open the tap and wet your hands under the running water. Make sure the water is clean. If it’s discoloured, then wait a few seconds, let the tap run until the water becomes clear. Temperature doesn’t matter.
  2. Apply soap and lather your hands by rubbing them together. You can pick any kind of soap you like, whether it’s foam, liquid, or bar. It doesn’t have to be an antibiotic, because all soaps work well.
  3. Make sure to spread the soap in between your fingers and under your nails. Keep rubbing your hands for 20 seconds. Hum your favorite tune or sing “happy birthday” to yourself twice.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean running water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel. If you’re in a public washroom, don’t touch the faucet right after washing your hands. Use a paper towel to turn it off and to turn the doorknob for added safety.

For National Handwashing Awareness Week, you can draw a chart with the above-mentioned steps or make a cute card and mail it to your loved ones. Add it to your workplace or in the bathroom so that you don’t forget to wash your hands properly.

Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching anything raw such as meat or eggs. Clean them before eating, wearing contact lenses, or treating a wound, and after touching an animal, taking out the trash, dealing with a wound, and sneezing or coughing.

Here is a short two-minute Youtube video by the WHO showing the proper way of washing your hands.

WHO: How to Handwash? With Soap and Water | World Health Organization

National Handwashing Awareness Week: How You Can Help

Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on October 15th and the National Handwashing Awareness Week starts on December 6th and ends on December 12th. These are two obvious opportunities for you to spread awareness about the importance of handwashing. You can come up with creative ways to do this or stick with the traditional campaigns and reminders.

But, before you begin, you should have enough resources at hand, just in case if anyone is skeptical and needs evidence. Add a personal touch to your idea and make it accessible to your intended audience. Start by sparking conversations about a recent medical study or something similar.

Maintain Good Hygiene — Teach Your Kids Too (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Give out custom soap bundles to your colleagues and friends in cute shapes and colors to give them a little motivation. Eye-catching soaps with good scents help maintain good hygiene. Draw some funny illustrations if you are feeling artistic and put them on cards and noticeboards. Hang reminders everywhere you can, in your home or car, your workplace, at malls, and restaurants. Offer free soap packages, add labels to your website if you have one, share videos and informative posts about handwashing. Teach and encourage one person at a time and watch the effects of chain communication. There are a hundred ways and you know which one suits you best. So pick a few, mix things up, and join the movement.

Awareness helps. By teaching people about the importance of handwashing, you can reduce children’s absenteeism, improve early child development, and prevent respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases. In addition, children are most prone to foodborne illnesses and handwashing is key to keeping little ones safe at the dinner table. You’ll find that good hygiene habits help with that too. Share what you learn and help your friends, family, and community be free from the clutches of illnesses. Your one message could make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Conclusion

The importance of handwashing is highlighted every year through the National Handwashing Awareness Week. And such awareness campaigns play a huge role in decreasing diseases and promoting healthy habits. Proper handwashing can help keep life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea at bay. It’s crucial for people of all ages, especially kids who are magnets for germs. So it won’t hurt to sing “happy birthday” to yourself and cleanse your hands of potential pathogens a few times a day. It’ll be worth it.

*This post may contain affiliate links to the products and services that we talk about.

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