National Handwashing Awareness Week

[ebs_frame bgcolor=” #00b0cc” fgcolor=” #fffffff”]National Handwashing Awareness Week is December 1-7![/ebs_frame]
by Gloria Soendker RN, Director of Clinical Services, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

Kansas City Hospice education

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy

You can help yourself and others stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

Handwashing with soap is not only simple and inexpensive, but also can dramatically reduce the number of people who get sick. Educating caregivers on the importance of handwashing with soap, and on the key times for when and how to wash hands properly is essential to preventing diseases like cold and flu.

When you are participating in home health care or hospice at home, it’s especially important to concentrate on cleanliness and personal safety. Our expert care teams at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care will help you and your family feel confident and teach you the skills you need to keep your loved one at home.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare and healthcare facilities.


Kansas City HospiceFollow these five steps every time:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Use Hand Sanitizer Only When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.  

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Remember these key facts about alcohol-based hand sanitizers:

  • Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations
  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals
  • Be cautious when using hand sanitizers around children. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple mouthfuls is swallowed

How to Use Hand Sanitizer

  • Apply the gel to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount)
  • Rub your hands together
  • Rub the gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry

For more information on handwashing, please visit CDC’s Handwashing website. You can also call 1-800-CDC-INFO or contact CDC-INFO for answers to specific questions.


Be sure to ask your palliative or hospice care team if you need assistance. We’re on call 24/7 at 816.363.2600 if you need us!

Looking for more tips for caregivers? Check out Resources for Caregivers and Extended Family here on our website.

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