As cold and flu season approaches, it’s National Handwashing Awareness Week, which serves as a reminder that you can ward off common illnesses just by making sure to wash your hands well.
National Handwashing Awareness Week’s mascot, Henry the Hand, says that the four principles of hand awareness are:
- Wash your hands when they’re dirty AND before eating.
- Don’t cough into your hands.
- Don’t sneeze into your hands.
- Don’t put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth.
If you follow those guidelines, you can reduce your risk of disease. Direct contamination of your mucous membranes is how you contract many diseases, but following Henry’s advice will help you avoid getting germs in your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Also, if you work in an office, Dr. Will Sawyer, an Infection Prevention Specialist affiliated with National Handwashing Awareness Week, recommends that you and your co-workers wash your hands upon entering your facility to reduce the amount of germs you bring in, wash your hands upon leaving your workplace so you can reduce the amount of germs you take home with you, and avoid touching your “T-Zone” (the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth) at work to reduce your risk of contracting a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection.
In addition, always wash your hands after using the bathroom. Even if you just go into the bathroom to fix your hair, it’s a good idea to wash your hands–bathroom counters are often very germy, and you don’t want to bring any of those germs with you upon leaving the bathroom.
And one final note: Don’t forget to get your flu shot! You can get it from some walk-in clinics that are at businesses like CVS or Walgreens, or you can head to your family doctor to get your flu shot. If you feel like you’re coming down with something, head to your doctor to get checked out. Don’t currently have a doctor? An advocacy service like Health Advocate or Health Proponent can help you locate a local, in-network physician for you.