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In a celebration of Global Handwashing Day on Oct. 15, Oregon State University Extension Service has been bringing attention to a technique it developed to ensure groups large and small can efficiently and effectively wash their hands.

OSU Extension has launched social media and email campaigns to highlight High Speed Hand Washing, which can help children and adults avoid getting COVID-19 or sick during the upcoming flu and cold season.

Global Handwashing Day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing was viewed as the single best thing children and adults can do to stay healthy, according to Lauren Kraemer, assistant professor of practice in the Extension Family and Community Health Program in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“Our goal is to create awareness and adoption of the High Speed Hand Washing technique in childcare facilities and to encourage parents to practice proper handwashing in the home,” Kraemer said.

The campaign features Facebook ads and emails from Extension Family and Community Health faculty who will send emails about Global Handwashing Day to a network of childcare providers in Oregon and Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington.

They include a Food Hero link to posters in English and Spanish and science experiments showing the effectiveness of proper handwashing.

In 2006, Extension Family and Community Health faculty and staff in Deschutes County developed High Speed Hand Washing to enable elementary school students to model good food safety behavior before sampling healthy foods in nutrition classes.

After successfully piloting it with fourth graders, the technique was adapted to all grades, from preschool through high school, and is widely used in Extension’s youth and adult programs.

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