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Hand Hygiene: How to Avoid the Flu and COVID-19

Posted on July 27, 2020

One of the best ways to help avoid the flu and COVID-19, and keep your loved ones protected from viruses, is to wash your hands. Hand washing can help stop the spread of viruses that you may have picked up from touching a contaminated surface. This simple step can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%!


When should I wash my hands?

It’s best to wash your hands before touching objects that other people may come into contact with. Its especially important to have clean hands before and after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because COVID-19 and flu can both enter the body through these areas. Other times that it’s important to practice hand washing include:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick
  • After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.
  • After using the bathroom

Steps for hand washing:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together this 5-step process to ensure you wash your hands effectively. Follow these five steps every time.

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


What about using hand sanitizer?

According to the research on hand sanitizer use compared to hand washing, hand washing is more effective at removing germs from hands. Sanitizers are the second-best option for use in situations when you can’t access soap and water, such as:

  • After touching door handles in a public location
  • After pumping gas but before entering your car
  • Before eating outdoors


To use hand sanitizer most effectively, follow the following steps:

  1. Check that your hand sanitizer has at least 60% alcohol concentration. This number is recommended because this higher alcohol concentration helps kill germs rather than just reduce the growth of germs on your hands.
  2. Apply sanitizer to one hand.
  3. Rub between both hands on both the insides and outsides of your hands, making sure to cover the creases between your fingers and your wrists.
  4. Wait until the sanitizer on your hands has dried before touching other surfaces.

We hope these tips can help you learn how to avoid the flu and stay healthy. They may also be a good resource as you teach others about the importance of handwashing and other basic virus avoidance techniques.

 

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/campaign.html#anchor_1569614418
https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html
https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html

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