The Jamestown School Department, with the support of the Jamestown community, provides a learning environment that instills confidence, inspires enthusiasm for lifelong learning, and provides children with the skills and knowledge necessary to become engaged and productive citizens.
October 2015 – Hand Awareness: “A Solution not a Revolution for Respiratory Illnesses”
Drs. William Sawyer and Zandra White’s article notes that the concept of Hand Awareness affects of a more comprehensive respiration infection prevention plan than vaccine immunization alone, as most respiratory infections do not have a vaccine solution.
Hand Awareness is an integrated concept of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and cross –contamination (or knowing where your hands are and what they are doing at all times). When practiced appropriately these behaviors have the potential to reduce the incidence of the common cold, upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), and gastrointestinal infections.
Hand hygiene is the act of cleaning one’s hands to reduce the concentration of loosely attached germs, not the indigenous flora, can be accomplished by soap and water, sanitizers or wipes. Of these options, plain soap and water have been shown to be the most effective at removing more organisms from your hands.
The critical component for an effective hand wash are lathering with soap, using friction on all surfaces of the hands, and cleaning under the fingernails. It is important to remember that soap does not kill germs. It is designed to loosen the attached germs and organic matter by using friction as the hands are rubbed together during lathering. The temperature of the water is of secondary importance. The third important step, cleaning under the fingernails if often skipped. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that 15 – 30 seconds is an effective time for hand washing.
Respiratory etiquette requires retraining ourselves to cough and sneeze into the elbow rather than our hands when a tissue is not available. Sneezing or coughing into your elbow still acts to cover the mouth or nose while preventing the hands from being contaminated and becoming fomites for transmission. The goal of using your elbow is to lower the total amount of aerosolized droplets and to decrease the range of droplet spread.
T-Zone awareness – do not put your fingers in your eyes, nose of mouth. While not all respiratory pathogens are spread this way, many are, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and rhinovirus.
When in doubt, wash your hands with soap and water!
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