With cold and flu season just around the corner many of us are stocking up on the Vitamin C and getting our flu shots. While those are great steps, we often forget one of the best and simplest defenses against illness — washing our hands! For Infection Prevention Week, check out these great hand-washing tips.
Why Hand Washing Matters
It may sound pretty obvious but washing your hands can have a huge impact on protecting yourself and others from illness or infection. In fact:
- Hand washing with soap could protect almost 1 out of 5 young children from getting respiratory infections like pneumonia.
- Hand washing education in the community reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21 percent.
Why is hand-washing so helpful? Because germs can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick, and hand-washing with warm soap and water is the best way to ward off germs.
Proper Hand Washing Technique
If you have young kids in the house, it’s especially important to model the right way to wash your hands to really get all the germs.
Follow these tips:
- 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.
Other Ways to Prevent Spreading Germs
Here are some other great tips to prevent spreading illness or germs:
- 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.