As the winter months are approaching, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is using Global Handwashing Day on 15 October to remind people of the need to maintain good hand hygiene. This will help to reduce the risk of picking up or spreading winter viruses such as influenza and norovirus
Hand washing with soap and warm water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections which can cause inconvenience and in some cases lead to serious illness.
Dr Lourda Geoghegan, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “I would like to remind everyone to make a habit of regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water.
The PHA recommends some simple, practical steps to minimise the risk of illness and infection:
- Always maintain good personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, especially after visits to the toilet, and before preparing or eating food.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands as soon as you can.
- Encourage children to wash their hands frequently and to use tissues when coughing or sneezing.
- Help older people, or those with underlying health conditions, to practice good hand hygiene.
- If you have vomiting or diarrhoea, or influenza-like symptoms, don’t visit friends or relatives in hospital or residential and nursing homes – ring them first. Avoid visiting your GP’s surgery – it is much better to phone for advice first.
Dr Geoghegan continued: “Global Handwashing Day is the perfect opportunity for everyone to reflect on the part we all play in preventing the spread of winter infections – helping to protect ourselves and others from getting ill.
“Bugs and germs are particularly active during the winter months and these can be easily passed from person to person. Older people and those with underlying health conditions need to be particularly aware of ways to reduce their risk of picking up infections.”
“Hand washing with soap and water will reduce the risk of picking up these infections and by following the simple steps above we can help to avoid illness and keep our families and ourselves healthy during the winter months.”
Further information on hand hygiene and washing techniques are available in an information leaflet which can be accessed on the PHA website: www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/hand-hygiene