National Handwashing Awareness Week Highlights Best Practices During COVID-19

National Handwashing Awareness Week, observed the first full week in December, is a great reminder to practice certain techniques to make handwashing as effective as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of proper handwashing – a trend Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services hopes will continue in order to curb the spread of germs and viruses in the communities we serve.

Washing your hands keeps you healthy and prevents the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following these five steps every time you wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

 The CDC outlines the following key times to wash your hands to avoid spreading germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

To prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC emphasizes the importance of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or to use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol before and after the following actions:

  • Touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Touching your mask
  • Entering and leaving a public place
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts or electronic cashier registers/screens

The Henry the Hand Foundation started the first National Handwashing Awareness Week in 1999. The non-profit dedicated to improving community health and wellness teaches people the role their hands play in the spread of infectious diseases through the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness:

  1. Wash your hand when they are dirty and before eating.
  2. DO NOT cough into your hands.
  3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands.
  4. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth.

While visiting loved ones during the holidays, especially those who are older and more at risk of contracting COVID-19 or another virus, handwashing is a simple and easy precaution we can all take to protect our family, friends and community. 

Visitors at all of our Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation facilities have access to hand sanitizer throughout the facility and bathrooms to wash their hands. To learn more about the extra precautions Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services is taking to protect our residents, visitors and team members from COVID-19, visit our website.