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On Global Handwashing Day become a ‘handwashing champion’

How many times have you heard the admonition to “wash your hands.” It is one of the easiest things anyone can do. All you need is a bar of soap, water and the initiative to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Most all of us link handwashing to using the bathroom, eating and preparing meals. It is a habit learned in our early childhood and one that follows us as we get older. But on a global scale, the habit of washing one’s hands has not caught on with everyone, and that is the basic idea behind Global Handwashing Day.

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USDA/FSIS


There are lots of reasons that handwashing is not a habit. Sometimes it may be simply because there is a lack of understanding regarding the effects of soil and bacteria on the hands and the illnesses that can pop up due to dirty hands. There are also some places where there is no soap and water available.

All this is the reason behind the establishment of Global Handwashing Day by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW) in 2008. Research done by the PPPHW shows that “hand washing with soap can cut the incidence of diarrhea by almost one-half and acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter.”

The simple action of washing our hands with soap and water can help prevent illnesses that contribute to the deaths of 1.7 million children worldwide each year. Not only that but good hygiene practices are an important factor in long-term health sustainability.

Handwashing tips to get you in the habit
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ha some really great tips to get you and your family started on a healthier lifestyle. And the suggestion of scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is true. If you don’t have a timer, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song clear to the end, twice.

Why do we want you to “scrub” your hands thoroughly with soap and water? Scrubbing creates friction that helps to release dirt, grease and bacteria from the skin. Using soap and warm water is the easiest and least expensive solution to having clean hands.

Some schools in the United States have contests for the classroom “Handwashing Champion” every year. This is a great way to get children into the habit of washing their hands before meals and after using the bathroom.

Below is the USDA’s list of the times we should wash our hands:
*Before and after handling food,
*Before and after treating a cut or wound,
*After using the bathroom,
*After changing a diaper,
*After handling pets,
*After handling pet waste, pet food, or pet treats,
*After touching garbage,
*After tending to a sick person,
*After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and
*After handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry, or fish and their juices.

So Have a great Global Handwashing Day on October 15, and remember to wash your hands. And remind your friends and relatives to wash their hands, too.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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