The United States Centers for Disease Control reports an estimated 2 million patients get a hospital-realated infection each year and 90,000 die from their infection. In terms of admissions that is 1 infection for every 20 patients. Proper handwashing techniques are the fastest and most important way to decrease the spread of communicable illness in children, teens and adults.

Every parent must play an active role in preventing the spread of microorganisms that cause disease. This is important in your home, your child’s daycare or school, your workplace, public places and in the hospital. The use of body and hand protective garb including gowns, gloves and eye protection are vital in a hospital setting; but, the first and most important protection is handwashing.

The first step is to make hand washing a habit. Every time you are in contact with someone who is ill wash your hands. Always remember to wash before eating, after using the bathroom, after coming in from outside, after touching a pet or animal, after sneezing and covering your mouth with your hand and whenever your hands look dirty. The more often you wash the safer you will be.

The best handwashing is with warm water and regular soap. Start out with wet hands and then apply the soap to serve as a lubricant and a degreaser to lift off any dirt. Rub the hands vigorously together and then rinse well for 15 seconds to wash the germs and grime down the drain. Antibacterial soaps are not needed and alcohol based hand sanitizers should not be used when the hands are visibly dirty. If no sink is available then hand sanitizers should still be used.