Winter is in full swing, which means that cold and flu season has arrived as well. Did you know that one of the easiest ways to prevent the cold and flu is simply by washing your hands?
This week (December 1-7) is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and our goal is to share just how important washing your hands can be to your health and the health of others around you.
Here are seven tips to ensure your handwashing is at the top of its game during cold and flu season:
1. Wash Effectively
The CDC recommends lathering the back of your hands, in between your fingers and under your fingernails for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them underwater. Then, dry them using a clean towel.
2. Think About it in 5 Steps
Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry. A fun way to remember these steps for the kids (and even for us adults) is to repeat the phrase, “Water Loves Soap Ridding Dirt.” Kids will love the fact that they are making dirt and germs go away, almost like a game. Whoever has the squeaky-cleanest hands has destroyed the dirt and germs!
3. Time Handwashing Around Eating
A good rule of thumb for washing your hands is to do so around any actions involving food. Wash your hands thoroughly before you prepare food, before you eat food, and after you eat food.
4. Wash Your Hands After Using the Restroom
This one should be a given — especially in a public restroom where many people are coming in and out, all day long. Just think about how many hands have touched the toilet paper, toilet seat, flusher, sink, paper towel holder, etc. In fact, the CDC reports that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.
Practice this habit in your own home to ensure you and your kids will do so in public as well.
5. Avoid Sneezing/Coughing Into Your Hands
Again, this tip should be obvious, but you would be surprised to see how many people do this. In fact, the flu can be spread just by coughing and sneezing. Please cough or sneeze into your shoulder, elbow, shirt, or if you’re able, grab a tissue then discard immediately. This is just one of many easy tips to follow for preventing the cold and flu, especially at work or school.
6. Wash Before Treating a Wound
Whether it’s your own wound or someone else’s, wash your hands before treating. The last thing you need during cold and flu season is an infected wound, which can be painful and last a long time.
7. If There’s a Baby Around, Wash Your Hands
Babies can only be treated with the flu vaccine starting at 6 months old, and even after that, their immune systems are much more susceptible to contracting the flu. When handling babies (your own or anyone else’s), please wash your hands before making close contact, before feeding, and after every diaper change.
Take into consideration how many things you touch with your hands throughout any given day. Then think about how many other people touch the same things. Handwashing is always important, but it is crucial during cold and flu season. National Handwashing Awareness Week exists to remind us how to wash our hands effectively so that we can avoid contracting these serious illnesses.
Download our How to Get Rid of the Flu Guide, for even more tips on preventing the flu and how to tell if you’re getting sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, please contact your doctor immediately.