National clean hands week Sept. 19 to 25

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When was the last time you took the time to disinfect your cell phones, door knobs or your computer keyboard? These are surfaces we touch often but forget about when we are cleaning. Most viruses and bacteria have the potential to live up to two or more hours once they touch a surface. Think about all the surfaces and items we touch every day. Every time our hands come in contact with something, we are spreading germs as well as collecting new ones.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, students from grades six-12 do not wash their hands often or effectively enough. Recent statistics show that only 58 percent of females and 48 percent of males wash their hands after using the restroom. Another object frequently handled is money. Money is frequently exchanged throughout the day without cautiously considering the dangers of the hidden germs. Using disinfectant household cleaners are an effective way to wipe germs away.

As the 2010 flu season rapidly approaches, proper hand washing will be critical to keep both you and your family healthy. According to the CDC, H1N1 made headlines last season as the number one deadly disease. On Aug. 10, the World Health Organization and the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared an end to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic globally. Aside from flu prevention, proper hand washing techniques also prevents possible cases of foodborne illnesses.

Hand sanitizers are very useful as they are 99.9 percent effective at eliminating germs. A few recommendations to prevent the spread of disease are to use antibacterial soap and/or hand sanitizer and wash your hands often. Antibacterial soap can help reduce your risk of becoming ill. Knowing when and how to properly wash your hands is very important. Children should wash their hands before and after they eat, after using the restroom and when returning home from outdoor activities where they are exposed to germs. An easy way to educate children on proper ways to wash their hands is to have them sing the alphabet song aloud. For adults, wash your hands vigorously for 20 seconds.

For further statistics or information, go to www.cdc.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, call 21st Space Wing Public Health at 556-1225.