The flu and cold season is quickly approaching and with it comes viruses that can make you or your loved ones sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), proper hand hygiene and washing hands with soap and water is one of the most important and effective ways to stay healthy and help stop the spread of germs to others. No one wants or likes being sick. So how do germs spread anyways? A few of the ways germs can spread are:
- Touching dirty hands
- After using the toilet
- After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
- Through contaminated food or water
- Through droplets in the air released during a cough or sneeze
- On contaminated surfaces
- Through contact with a sick person’s body fluids
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
When you come into contact with germs, you can become infected just by touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Once infected, it’s usually just a matter of time before you begin to show symptoms of illness. That is why hand hygiene is so important!
Proper hand washing is the first line of defense against illness and not just from the flu or the common cold. Hand washing can also help prevent the spread of illness from other serious diseases such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, hepatitis A and many types of diarrhea.
Some ways you can combat the germs and practice good hand hygiene are:
- Wash your hands in warm water
- Use soap and lather for at least 20 seconds. You don’t have to use antibacterial soap either, any soap will do
- Make sure you scrub thoroughly in between your fingers, around your nail beds and don’t forget to scrub up to your wrists
- Rinse and dry well
As young children tend to forget to wash their hands, be sure to remind children to wash their hands. One way to make hand washing fun for children is to teach them a hand wash song and sing it to a familiar child’s song. Here is an example—
Hand Wash Song (sing to the tune of Row your Boat) and make sure to sing the song twice so that the proper amount of time is spent on scrubbing their hands—
Wash, wash, wash your hands
Soap will make them clean
Scrub the germs ‘til they fall off
Germs go down the drain
If you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water and your hands are not visibly dirty, you can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Make sure that it has at least 60% alcohol for it to be effective. When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to one of your hands and rub your hands together. Make sure that the product covers all surfaces of your hands and fingers and rub until your hands are dry.
Remember, a few seconds at the sink could help you and your loved ones avoid illness and don’t underestimate the power of hand washing!