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National Handwashing Awareness Week Promotes Proper Hand Hygiene

December 5, 2022

National Handwashing Awareness Week kicked off on December 4 this year and will continue through December 10. The week, which helps promote proper hand hygiene through education within schools, was established by Dr. William Sawyer, a hand hygiene expert and the founder of Henry the Hand Foundation.

Sawyer’s organization began in response to the 1999 flu vaccine shortage in Cincinnati, with the goal of keeping the community safe through good hand hygiene practices.

To help increase awareness, facility cleaning products and services company Cintas Corp. asked Sawyer, who has spent over 35 years as a family medicine doctor, to discuss the foundation’s Four Principles of Hand Awareness.

“These four principles are to teach children and adults a life skill of good hand hygiene behavior,” explained Sawyer. “Handwashing can help reduce the spread of infectious disease and improve people’s health if we can just spread the word of its importance.”

Endorsed by both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Four Principles of Hand Awareness comprise the following behaviors:

  1. Washing your hands when they are dirty and before eating
  2. Not coughing into your hands 
  3. Not sneezing into your hands 
  4. Not putting your fingers into your eyes, nose, or mouth. 

“It’s important to learn and practice good handwashing habits and ensure you have proper handwashing supplies at all times,” said Julia Messinger, marketing manager–facility services at Cintas. “Implementing a coordinated cleaning program can also help reduce the spread of germs throughout a facility.”

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