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Hand Hygiene / Infection Control / Hand Soap / Hand Sanitizer
October 2011 Cleanthoughts

Hand Hygiene As A First Defense

With flu season inching nearer, the role hand hygiene plays in keeping people healthy needs to be stressed.

October 11, 2011
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Unlike various hunting seasons in North America that have set opening and closing dates, there are no specific junctures when it comes to flu season.

Typically, the influenza virus begins affecting unlucky hosts in early October — around the time the leaves begin to turn colors reminiscent of summertime campfires.

Although the virus generally peaks in January and continues through April, it's longevity and vehemence varies depending on which region in which you find yourself.

The influenza virus thrives in colder weather — when people tend to congregate indoors and increase the likelihood of transmission.

As was reported in a recent survey from Staples Advantage, nearly 70 percent of employees admit to coming into the office while sick.

It is estimated that the influenza virus has an over $80 billion impact on the economy each year in terms of, among other things, medical treatment and lost workdays.

There are many things you can do to minimize your risk of falling victim, including disinfecting high touch surfaces, minimizing hand-to-face contact, distancing yourself from sick individuals and getting an annual flu vaccine.

But, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper and frequent handwashing is the single most effective way to beat the virus.

When soap and water are not available, instant hand sanitizers are an acceptable alternative to washing.

However, sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs or viruses, and just because you have applied an instant hand sanitizer does not mean that potentially harmful pathogens are not still present.

As such, it is my, yours and everyone else's responsibility to spread the word about proper hand hygiene and how it can keep you healthy this flu season.

What Is The Proper Handwashing Technique?

According to the CDC, you should:

  • Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds — roughly the time it takes to hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice
  • Rinse your hands well under running water
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or high-speed air dryer.

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