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Don’t forget to wash your hands in December

When: December 1 – 7, 2013

What: The cold weather months are typically associated with increased illness. When a virus hits, everyone is at risk, especially kids in classrooms and an office full of co-workers. Now is the perfect time of year to take pre-emptive precautions, such as fervent hand washing. Stay well during National Hand Washing Awareness Week, Dec. 1-7.

Background: Hand washing is an incredibly important step to staying healthy when germs are present. Hand washing should occur frequently, especially before and after eating. Germs are the enemy during winter months and frequent hand washing can be considered a weapon against illness. According to the Henry The Hand Foundation, which was founded by Dr. Will Sawyer, an infection prevention specialist, the main place to avoid touching is the “T Zone,” which is the eyes, nose and mouth.

Story Pitch: A number of groups and organizations can pitch around National Hand washing Awareness Week. Schools will want to note the importance of ample hand washing to prevent the spread of germs. Producers of alcohol based hand sanitizers may promote the benefits of sanitizing hands even when water and soap aren’t available. Family doctors may also discuss the importance of frequent hand washing with their patients. Hand soap retailers and manufacturers can also get in on this event by advertising the newest scents and products available.

Story Hook: According to the Centers for Disease Control, hand washing reduces the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.  Meanwhile, the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in classrooms can reduce the incidents of absent students by 19.8 percent. Consider the following when you make your pitch:

  • How often should a person wash their hands?
  • What steps can someone take if clean water and soap isn’t available?
  • How long should someone wash their hands, typically?
  • Are certain types of soap more effective than others?

Tips:  A family doctor who teaches parents and children about the importance of proper hygiene can weigh in on hand washing and why it is so vital. In addition, families who wash their hands frequently can discuss the benefits of beating germs.


American Public Health Association
(202) 777-2742

Centers for Disease Control
(800) 232-4636

Department of Health and Human Services
(877) 696-6775

National Institutes of Health
(301) 496-4000

 –Researched, compiled & written by Kimberly Cooper
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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