Work on hand-washing habit this month

Press release from Washoe County Health District:

The next time you step up to wash your hands, start singing the alphabet song (to yourself, if you are shy) and wait until the end of the song to rinse the soap from your hands. Sounds easy, and correctly washing hands can help keep everyone from getting exposed to colds, the flu and other viruses like norovirus, which causes stomach upset and diarrhea.

The Washoe County Health District will be celebrating Clean Hands Month all of September, while the week of Sept. 20-26 has been set aside by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the national Clean Hands Coalition to remind everyone that clean hands do save lives. Nearly 22 million school days are lost every year due to the common cold alone, while it has been estimated that approximately 23 million people in the U.S. catch norovirus each year. Some viruses are very hardy and can live on a table top or door knob for several hours.

While it is important to always wash your hands before and after using the restroom, preparing food, eating meals, handling pets and animals and changing diapers, Mary Anderson, MD, District Health Officer, is reminding the public that the H1N1 flu virus has not gone away over the summer and is expected to continue infecting citizens all winter. “Washing your hands is the best defense to staying well,” she says. “Make a game of learning proper hand washing techniques with your kids, and hopefully your entire family will stay healthy this winter.”

The Washoe County Health District invites you to take this month to teach your children and yourself how long and how well to wash your hands. Use warm water and soap, washing both the front and the back of the hands, for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes you to sing the alphabet song. For more hand washing information, please visit washoecounty.us/health, the CDC Web site or the Clean Hands Coalition site. Practice your hand washing and your singing, and stay healthy this winter! For more information, call Environmental Health Services at 775-328-2434.

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