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      Good handwashing a must for health

      You've probably always heard that its important to wash your hands. Now it seems that advice is more important than ever before.

      Western Illinois University released a study that revealed only 58 percent of female students and 48 percent of male students actually washed their hands after using the restroom. That low statistic has prompted the school to be a member of the clean hands coalition. It encourages students to do their part to prevent illness by washing their hands.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists handwashing as the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself from getting sick and from spreading germs to others.Here's another fact. Contrary to what you may believe, experts say cold and flu viruses are spread by hands more often than through the air from sneezing.

      Why is it so important for folks to wash their hands?

      Kathy Harman of the Quincy Medical Group said, "There's bacteria and viruses on everything and if you have a person who is sick and they touch a door knob, a desk playground equipment. Then that bacteria is on that object and then if you then in return pick up or touch that object you are likely to pick up or spread that virus."

      She says good handwashing is even more important in the school setting. There kids are in an enclosed environment and sharing everything from books to pencils and papers. And that's why it's a good idea for parents to teach kids good washing habits from the get-go...and practice those tips themselves.

      This is the proper and most effective way to wash your hands. First wet them. Then apply the soap...any soap is fine.....and then rub the soap on the top and back of your between the fingers and under your finger nails. You should scrub your hands as long as it takes you to say your abc's. Then rinse..using warm or cool water. Water that's too hot can cause your hands to become dry.

      Here's one important step. Turn off the faucet using a paper towel...remember your dirty hands turned it on...your clean hands shouldn't be contaminated again.

      Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and any other time your hands become dirty while working with food. Those are the ways you can also transport E-coli.

      What if you're not near a sink or soap? Harman strongly suggests keeping an alcohol-based sanitizer for your hands...that can keep you safe from dangerous germs and keep you healthy away from home.

      By the way, another way to transport dangerous germs is by placing your purse on the bathroom floor. When your purse hits the floor it becomes contaminated. You're likely to put it on your countertop when you get home. Transporting the germs from the public restroom floor to the place your make your children dinner.