Be a 'flu fighter' -- Handwashing key to staying healthy during cold season
December 3, 2009
The old phrase, "whistle while you work," can also apply to proper hygiene.
Post health officials stress making cleanliness a priority during Handwashing Awareness Week, Monday through Dec. 12, and say humming a few tunes along the way can help.
The amount of time spent during a washing session matters, said Christy Daughtry, Lyster Army Health Clinic community health nurse. She recommends her patients sing "Happy Birthday" twice or the "ABCs" while scrubbing to ensure they're sanitizing their hands for the proper duration -20 seconds or more.
While singing their songs of choice, she said people should run warm water, lather their hands with soap, rub hands vigorously, dry hands using a paper towel and turn off the sink faucet using the towel. Daughtry noted people should ensure they scrub between their fingers and underneath any jewelry to eliminate germs.
She said handwashing is critical to remaining healthy year-round.
"It's the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of disease," Daughtry said.
She said people should wash their hands after being outside, playing with pets, before and after eating, after using restrooms and spending time among other people.
Handwashing is very important, especially with this year's severe influenza season, Daughtry said. She explained the flu spreads through airborne droplets or on surfaces, and hand sanitation, along with influenza vaccinations, can keep people healthy. The handwashing campaign, she said, coincides nicely with National Immunization Week, Dec. 7-12. The Fort Rucker community should endeavor to receive their immunizations from LAHC. For more information, or vaccine updates, call 255-7325.
Daughtry said LAHC staff works with Child, Youth and School Services and post schools members to educate children about the importance of healthy habits.
Handwashing techniques posters displayed throughout the clinic and other facilities on post remind adults about the importance of handwashing, she noted.
LAHC patients should challenge their doctors and nurses to live up to the same expectations, asking them if they've soaped up before appointments, Daughtry added.
Jeanie Eddy, an LAHC immunization/allergy nurse, is one of the professionals up to the challenge. She said she instructs her patients on the importance of good handwashing practices during visits. When soap and warm water are unavailable, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good substitute, Eddy said.
For more information on handwashing practices or immunizations, call LAHC Immunization/Allergy Clinic staff at 255-7754.