The Importance of Proper Handwashing


The 2022-2023 Flu Season

Flu season typically lasts from October until May, with a peak in December and January. However, it seems to have arrived about 6 weeks early this year with uncharacteristically high illness. In fact, there been not been such a high burden of flu since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, a metric the CDC uses to estimate a season’s severity based on laboratory-confirmed cases, doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths. “It’s unusual, but we’re coming out of an unusual covid pandemic that has really affected influenza and other respiratory viruses that are circulating,” said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist who heads the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.

Cases are only expected to rise as we enter peak season and it is looking like many cases will be severe. This latest flu data comes as the nation’s strained public health system is grappling with multiple virus threats including record RSV cases and the possibility of yet more COVID-19 variants. This is why it is so important to take steps to help prevent catching and spreading the flu. One of the simplest ways to do this is by washing your hands.

National Handwashing Awareness Week

Did you know that National Handwashing Awareness Week will be held this year from December 4-10? This is the perfect time to remind employees, family members and young children of the importance of proper handwashing and also teach them the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness.

The Henry Hand Foundation is a non-profit foundation founded in 2001 by Dr. William Sawyer who identified a need to train the individual in personal protective hand hygiene behaviors to benefit health. He developed The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness, which are endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, and it is promoted each year during National Handwashing Awareness Week.

The 4 Principles include:

  1. Wash your hands 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.

Proper Handwashing Instructions:

  1. Wet hands with water.
  2. Apply enough soap to cover the front and back of your hands and in between your fingers.
  3. Rub hands together and scrub the front and back of your hands and in between your fingers.
  4. Wash the front and back of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails.
  5. Rinse your hands with clean water.
  6. Dry hands completely using a clean towel or single-use towel or air dry.
  7. *If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol and then wash your hands as soon as you are able to.

To learn more about how handwashing can help prevent the spread of the flu and to access a National Handwashing Awareness Week resources, click here!



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