December has arrived and so has National Handwashing Awareness Week! December is typically the  season for festivities, family, and fun. Even with muted celebrations during the pandemic, the last thing we want to partake in is sniffles, colds, the flu, or Covid-19. Sneezes, after all, are like mini hurricanes. A typical human sneeze exits the body at about 200 miles per hour and emits around 40,000 droplets into the air, which contain bacteria and if you’re ill with Covid – that virus too.

One main way to prevent yourself from falling victim to the cold weather and flu season is to wash your hands.  NATIONAL HANDWASHING AWARENESS WEEK – December 1-7, 2020 | National Today is celebrated to promote better hygiene, reduce illnesses, and reduce virus spread.

We all want to enjoy the holidays and prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises us to wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands BEFORE and AFTER:

  • Touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Touching your mask
  • Entering and leaving a public place
  • Touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the best way to take care of yourself is to wash your hands with soap and water:

  • Before, during and after food preparation
  • Before and after consuming any food
  • Before and after taking care of someone home sick (vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Before and after taking care of a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal food, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage or trash
  • Avoid coughing into your hands (use a tissue or elbow)

This fantastic campaign, when shared with family, friends, and colleagues, not only helps everyone stay well, but also advocates the spirit of the holiday. To learn more about how these steps can aid your health, and why they’re the proper way, click this link.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, properly washing your hands can prevent 1 in 5 infections, including the flu. If you do not have access to soap and water, which of course is considered quite the luxury for some areas of the world, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. Remember though, to do your research because there are many sanitizers out there that do not safely remove every germ.

Even though it may sound simple, there are some steps to better your technique when it comes to handwashing. According to the CDC&P include the following:

  • Wet make sure it is clean, running water, turn off the faucet then apply antibacterial soap.
  • Lather your hands with the soap, making sure not to miss the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub for 20-30 seconds. (An easy self-timer is humming the “Happy Birthday” twice). Then turn the on the faucet again.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. (Avoid rubbing them on clothing)

#nationalhandwashingweek #nationalhandwashingawareness #handwashingawarenessweek #accesstoculture #sharonschweitzer #access2culture #etiquette #GlobalEtiquette #AnnualObservance #crosscultural #intercultural

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, modern manners and etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards