Germs don’t discriminate; illness and disease can impact anyone. That’s why everyone—no matter their age, race or sex—should get into the habit of regular handwashing. Doing so could very well save lives.

According to the CDC, proper handwashing can reduce diarrheal disease-related deaths by as much as 50%. Too, it can lower the risk of respiratory infections by nearly 20%. Although it might cost a few extra moments each day, no doubt you’d agree that the benefits are immense.

Keeping clean hands is certainly important in a variety of day-to-day situations. Let’s consider just two instances in which hand washing deserves special attention, though.

…When at Home With the Kids

Habits that develop in childhood are hard to change later in life. In other words, a child who is not taught the importance of good hygiene early on will always have a greater risk of illness. The opposite is also true. That’s why it’s so important for parents to teach their children both when and how to wash their hands.

Kids should be verbally reminded to keep their hands clean, especially:

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • After using the bathroom
  • When they’re sick (or after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses anytime)
  • After touching a pet or handling pet supplies
  • Before and after cleaning a cut or wound

Take opportunities to explain, in an age-appropriate way, the dangers of the bacteria that exist in every household, which can spread easily. These bacteria include E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus, all of which can result in serious illness.

By establishing regular hand washing as part of everyday life, you set your child up for success. Hand washing will remain a part of their routines and, in turn, protect them against the germs and bacteria that exist and thrive in schools, offices, and other public places.

…When at Work

If you are an employer, it’s your responsibility to reinforce the necessity of hand washing.

After all, you do know how important that practice is. Therefore, it’s up to you to post signs in common areas and remind employees of its importance during team meetings.

Most jobs involve regular contact with others. Opportunities for germ transmission are limitless, since just about every surface in a typical workplace is touched by dozens of people every day.

That’s not to mention jobs that require contact with the public, such as retail and food service. Such jobs introduce even more contaminated objects into the picture such as cash. In restaurants, diners trust that kitchen staff are taking proper safety precautions and washing their hands. When employees don’t do so regularly, it can result in food poisoning, which leads to several thousand deaths per year.

One thing’s for sure: Exposure to germs on the job is inevitable. Without ensuring that everyone’s hands are kept clean, it becomes that much easier for germs to spread.

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands!

The consequences of not washing your hands cannot be emphasized enough.The difference between clean and germy hands can mean the difference between good health and devastating illness…or worse.

Bacteria, disease, and the effects of bad hygiene may be a bit scary to think about. The positive thing, though is that you have a measure of control over your health and well-being. So take control! Develop a good routine of hand washing and encourage others to do the same. In doing this, you’ll protect yourself and others from harm.