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Happy birthday for hand washing

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Although you only celebrate your birthday once a year, you should be singing Happy Birthday to yourself every time you wash your hands.

The song is the ideal length of time to make sure you wash your hands correctly to minimise the spread of germs and bacteria.

This week marks Global Handwashing Day (Thursday 15 October) and Cannon Hygiene want more New Zealanders to make sure they are doing it right to help prevent the spread of disease.

Cannon Hygiene national product manager, Jeff Fraser, says handwashing is one of the most effective ways to fight illness, but it is often overlooked. Mr Fraser says around 95 per cent of people who use a public toilet say they have washed their hands, but in reality, one in five people don’t.

"Thirty per cent of people don’t use soap and only 16 per cent wash their hands long enough-.

"Washing your hands should be second nature and a lot of people think they're doing it right, but in reality they're not," says Mr Fraser.

"The most effective way is to wash for at least 30 seconds, which is the equivalent to humming the Happy Birthday song twice. "If everyone washed their hands properly - and with soap - then we will all do our bit to help prevent the spread of disease."

Global Handwashing Day is held every year to promote hand hygiene. It is recommended that people wash or sanitise hands before and after preparing and eating food and after coughing, sneezing or visiting the toilet.

The purpose of the global day is to create awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Every year 1.7 million children die before their fifth birthday from diarrhea or pneumonia, which can be prevented with proper hand hygiene.

"Everyone should be washing and drying or sanitising their hands frequently," Mr Fraser says. "Global Handwashing Day is a great opportunity to teach children - and adults - how to wash their hands properly." Best practice tips:

Wet hands with water.

Apply enough soap to cover all hand surface and rub hands palm to palm up to and including wrists.

Right palm over back of left with linked fingers and vice versa.

Palm to palm with linked fingers.

Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.

Rotational rubbing of left thumb held in right palm and vice versa.

Rotational rubbing with closed fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa.

Rinse hands well with water.

Dry hands with paper towel. Turn off tap with paper towel. Your hands are clean.

For an instructional poster and graphics about proper hand washing, please click here. For a children’s version, please click here. These posters are also attached.

- The Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, 2015

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