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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: December 5, 2011


Washing Hands Can Prevent Diseases From The Common Cold To Flu, Meningitis And Hepatitis A

Surgeons scrub up and chefs suds up - because hand washing is a proven way to prevent the spread of illness. During National Hand Washing Awareness Week, Dec. 4-10, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) urges all Delawareans to get in the habit of washing up and using hand sanitizer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clean hands not only prevent the spread of common illnesses like the common cold, but also more serious diseases like hepatitis A, meningitis, the flu and infectious diarrhea. Consider these facts:

DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said, "Consistent and proper hand washing can make a big difference in the health of our families and communities. Despite having heard this since childhood, too many people still don't heed the message. We have to change that."

Hand washing is especially important after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after pets or handling money.

Follow these steps to correctly wash hands.

  1. Wet hands with warm water (not hot) and use soap.
  2. Rub hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
  3. Rub for a minimum of 15 seconds - the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday".
  4. Work soap under fingernails. Use a nail brush if possible.
  5. Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
  6. Turn faucet off with the towel, not hands, to keep from recontaminating your freshly cleaned hands.

By following this simple advice and keeping our hands clean, we can literally wash away disease and better protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.