NHM Health Focus:
Handwashing is a simple habit that can help keep you healthy.
While handwashing is not the only answer, we can reduce our chances of contracting and spreading colds, the
flu and other infectious diseases if we wash our hands frequently
and keep them away from mouth, nose and eyes between washings. Yet many
people continue to disregard this advice and unnecessarily catch and
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention tells us that:
"Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can
take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others,"
and when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that
you should wash for 20 seconds, about the same time it takes to sing
the "Happy Birthday" song twice! (CDC)
"Serious diseases, such as hepatitis A, meningitis, and infectious diarrhea, can be prevented if people make a habit of washing their hands."
"Studies have shown that human influenza viruses generally can
survive on surfaces for between 2 and 8 hours." (CDC)
"Proper hand-washing could eliminate close to half of all cases
of foodborne illness." (FDA)
"A study of 305 school children found that youngsters who washed
their hands 4 times a day had 24% fewer sick days due to respiratory
illness and 51% fewer days lost due to upset stomach." (FDA)
Results of a new survey show many people still aren't washing
their hands in public places, exposing others to the risk of infection,
despite recent outbreaks of infectious diseases. (MicrobeWorld)
"Women wash their hands more often than men (88% versus 66%)."
The activities listed below demonstrate to participants that proper
washing removes unseen particles, including disease causing agents,
from their hands.
Activities and Experiments
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has
these additional resources related to handwashing and disease prevention.