NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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Wash Your Hands!

“Wash Your Hands!”


By, Sara Laite, RD, LRD

Extension Agent


“Hey, aren’t you the germ lady?” one student asked me in the hallway of one of the local elementary schools.  I was making my way to a classroom to teach a nutrition lesson.  “Why, sure, yes, I am”, I said grinning.  Many area kids have met my germ puppet, BAC (short for bacteria), and have had practice washing their hands with glogerm.  Handwashing lessons are some of my favorites and are such a great reminder for kids and adults alike.       


Did you know? According to handwashing research, one in three adults skips washing his/her hands after using the restroom.  One in four adults skips handwashing after changing a baby’s diaper.  Fewer than one in five washes his/her hands after handling money.  What?!


Proper handwashing is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.  Many diseases are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.  So, wash your hands after using the restroom, before and after food preparation, after handling pets, after changing a diaper, and many other times!


Handwashing really does help!  In a study of 305 school children, researchers found that those who washed their hands four times a day had 24 percent fewer sick days due to respiratory illness and 51 percent fewer sick days due to upset stomach.


Here’s how to effectively wash.  Wet your hands with clean, running water, add soap and lather up for at least 20 seconds.  Scrub the backs of your hands, between fingers and under fingernails.  Rinse well with running, warm water.  Dry with a clean towel.  In public restrooms, use a paper towel to open the door as you leave.  Unfortunately, not everyone washes their hands!


Can hand sanitizers replace washing hands?  Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for hand washing.  Hand sanitizers are recommended when hand-washing facilities are not available.  Experts recommend that hand sanitizers contain at least 60 percent alcohol to effectively kill bacteria and viruses.  Keep in mind that hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. 


Need some handwashing reminders for your place of work or home?  Come see us at the Ramsey County Extension Office, and we will set you up with your needs.


Here’s a kid-friendly recipe to cook with your child while emphasizing the importance of handwashing before and after handling food.  Practice singing “Happy Birthday” twice or the “ABCs” while washing for the recommended 20 seconds.

Kid-tastic Pizzadillas

4 (8-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas

1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 ounce turkey pepperoni or Canadian bacon

1 cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a pan with cooking spray and place tortillas on top.

Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cheese over each tortilla and divide the meat among tortillas. Top each with another 3 tablespoons cheese. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully fold each tortilla in half. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until browned and crisp, turning after 5 minutes. Serve with warm marinara sauce. Makes 4 servings. Each serving has 308 calories, 16 g fat, 18 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 11 g fiber, 849 mg sodium, and 413 mg calcium.


For more information on this and other nutrition related items, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at 701-662-7027.  Website: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ramseycountyextension.  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NDSUExtRamsey/.


(Sara Laite is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Education Agent for the NDSU Extension in Ramsey County.)


Sources: NDSU Extension, Wash Your Hands!, 2015 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, When and How to Wash Your Hands, 2016. 


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