Prevention Is In Your Hands: Campaign Promotes Hand Washing To Help Ward Off Infections

Think about how many doorknobs you turn in a day; how many railings you touch going up or down stairs. How many faucets you turn on and off. Then consider how many other people did the same thing before you. And maybe they’d just sneezed. Or wiped their mouth; picked something up off the floor. Or worse.

If that’s not enough to make you reach for the soap, maybe the new initiative from Health Services and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety promoting hand washing will do the trick.

Their goal: to remind people as often as possible to wash their hands. And if soap and water aren’t available, to use the 370 hand sanitizers that will be installed around campus during the next couple of months.

A poster made by Environmental Health and Safety reminds folks that these two measures are the best way to help prevent the spread of infection and disease. The poster can be viewed on the UNH website at http://www.unh.edu/emergency/avianflu/Posters/Hand_Washing.pdf.

Right now, 35 dispensers are planned for Dimond Library, in the computer clusters and other areas where students congregate. Another 10 are going in the MUB. Hopefully by mid-November the rest of the hand sanitizers will be in place.

“Soap and water are preferable but hand sanitizers are the next-best thing,” Kathleen Grace-Bishop, director of education and promotion at Health Services, said. “Washing your hands helps tremendously. We know it is key in stopping the spread not only of cold and flu but other illnesses.”

The dispensers and antimicrobial lotion were purchased as part of the university's pandemic influenza preparedness efforts. Total cost for the plan, including the purchase and installation of the hand sanitizers, is about $6,500.

Ninety-eight percent of infections are spread by hands.

The poster calls for hand washing before and after direct contact with another person, after using the restroom, sneezing, blowing your nose, touching your face or hair or having contact with someone who is sick.

“There is no absolute in preventing the spread of disease,” said David Gillum, assistant director of Environmental Health and Safety. “But using hand sanitizers in addition to regular hand washing is simply the most effective thing to do.”

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