When asked about swine flu – oh, sorry, the H1N1 flu – U.S. President Barack Obama said during his prime-time 100-day press commencement conference that handwashing and staying at home if sick were key to controlling any potential spread of flu.
As we’ve said, proper handwashing with the proper tools — soap, water and paper towel — can significantly reduce the number of foodborne and other illnesses, even the emerging swine flu.
The steps in proper handwashing, as concluded from the preponderance of available evidence, are:
• wet hands with vigorously flowing water;
• use enough soap to build a good lather;
• scrub hands vigorously, creating friction and reaching all areas of the fingers and hands for at least 10 seconds to loosen pathogens on the fingers and hands;
• rinse hands with thorough amounts of water while continuing to rub hands; and
• dry hands vigorously with paper towel.
If any of the tools for handwashing are missing, let someone know.
However, even with reminders and access to the proper tools, not everyone will practice good hygiene. Those signs that say, ‘Employees Must Wash Hands’ don’t always work. We’re working in settings like high schools and hospitals to figure out the best way to not only tell people to wash their hands, but to use new media and messages to really compel individuals to wash their hands.
A video is available at:
and a poster at