It’s officially flu season in Maryland – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported flu in every state. It’s that time of year when it seems that everyone is sick. 

So, how can you protect yourself and your children? “Wash your hands – thoroughly and often,” says Rose Melendez, RN, director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital. Melendez shares her advice for thorough hand-washing. 

Why is washing your hands important?

Nurse Rose: Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to prevent flu and other illness. Germs can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.

In fact:

  • Hand washing with soap could protect almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.
  • Hand washing education in the community reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21 percent.

What’s the correct way to wash your hands?

Nurse Rose: As a mom, I’ve seen the trick where kids run their hands under the faucet for a few seconds and call it a day. It’s really important that we practice proper hand-washing guidelines and teach our children.

Tips for Hand Washing

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

How else can we avoid cold and flu?

Nurse Rose: The best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated, and it’s not too late. Peak flu season runs from December through March.

Prevent the spread of illness with these tips.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and keep your distance if you’re sick.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your face and in your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Practice good health habits like disinfecting touched surfaces, getting lots of sleep, being physically active, drinking fluids and eating nutritious foods.

Do you think you or your child has the flu? Centra Care Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care is open daily for walk-ins or through online reservations.

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.