May 5 is National Hand Hygiene Day and the Florida Department of Health urges residents to pause and consider the importance of this everyday health habit. Washing your hands is the most significant step one can take to prevent the spread of germs and illness.

Image/Amanda Mills
Image/Amanda Mills

“Washing your hands regularly throughout the day is an essential way to prevent the spread of contagious infections,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. “In this way, we can protect ourselves, our families and our communities from illness and disease every day.”

The department’s 5th Guy Campaign recognizes that while four out of five people wash their hands after using the restroom, all it takes is one person with bad hygiene habits to spread germs and illness through an office or classroom. The campaign also addresses covering your cough, staying home when you are sick and offers lighthearted tips on how to address those in your office who choose not to practice proper hygiene.

The department recommends using soap and warm water and rubbing your hands together for at least 15 seconds when washing your hands. Try to scrub between all your fingers, cover the entire palm and wash all the way down to the wrist on both sides. Regular hand washing can prevent the flu, common cold, strep throat, pneumonia and intestinal disorders.

Make sure to wash your hands every time you use the restroom, before and after meals, after handling food or garbage, after touching a pet or changing a diaper, and after blowing your nose. Washing hands correctly and frequently can improve your health and the health of those around you.

For more information on how to avoid being the “fifth guy,” visit the campaign’s website at