The Importance of Washing Your Hands
Hand washing is a simple habit, something most people do without thinking. Yet hand washing, when done properly, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. This simple habit requires only soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer - a cleanser that doesn't require water.

Despite the proven health benefits of hand washing, many people don't practice this habit as often as they should-even after using the toilet. Throughout the day you accumulate germs on your hands from a variety of sources, such as direct contact with people, contaminated surfaces, foods, even animals and animal waste. If you don't wash your hands frequently enough, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. And you can spread these germs to others by touching them or by touching surfaces that they also touch, such as doorknobs.

Click the image for a digital editon of the hand hygiene toolkit

Infectious diseases that are commonly spread through hand-to-hand contact include the common cold, flu and several gastrointestinal disorders, such as infectious diarrhea. While most people will get over a cold, the flu can be much more serious. Some people with the flu, particularly older adults and people with chronic medical problems, can develop pneumonia. The combination of the flu and pneumonia, in fact, is the eighth-leading cause of death among Americans.

The hand hygiene program was developed by Texas Health Resources to promote good hand hygiene habits and help educate schools, businesses and other organizations on the simple habits of hand washing in the places where infectious disease is most likely to spread. By teaching both adults and children to wash their hands well and often, we hope to make our communities safer and healthier places to live.

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