Flu season is here, with H1N1 and other strains cropping up in many cities. How can you stay healthy? You hold the top secret for fighting flu infection right in your own hands.
How often do you need to wash your hands?
No one can offer an actual number for daily hand washing, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Mayo Clinic and other health-related institutions recommend it. Actually, the need is directly related to the number of potential germ sources a person’s hands may encounter on any given day.
At the very least, a health-conscious individual will want to wash his or her hands before touching the eyes or mouth, after using the bathroom, before eating or handling food, and after touching any germy sorts of items. These may include car controls, cash or currency, cleaning supplies, diapers, doorknobs, elevator buttons, facial tissues, garbage, gates, hand railings, library books, light switches, mail, pets or other animals, rented DVDs, shoes, sports equipment, toys, vending machine knobs, video game controllers and other shared surfaces.
Of course, individuals who are already sick with a cold or the flu will need to wash their hands more frequently and particularly after coughing, sneezing or blowing their noses. Those who visit or care for sick or injured folks will require more hand washing as well.
Clean hands help to keep flu and other infections at bay.
What’s the proper protocol for hand washing?
Hand washing may seem simple, but the basic steps are often overlooked. Simply dipping hands into running water and wiping them with a towel is not sufficient for disease prevention.
Check out this handful of steps for properly washing hands for optimum health.
First, wet the hands with clean tap water.
Add soap (bar, liquid or powder), and rub hands vigorously together. Scrub hands together for at least 20-30 seconds, spreading soapy lather all over hands.
Use a clean scrub brush (or an old toothbrush) to remove dirt and germs from under fingernails, if needed.
Rinse hands thoroughly under warm, fresh water.
Dry hands completely with clean paper toweling, a fresh towel or a hand air dryer. (Avoid reusing hand towels, as these may harbor germs.) Use a towel or tissue to turn off the water faucet and to open the bathroom door, if needed.
Do antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer gels actually work?
In a pinch, antibacterial products can offer convenient germ prevention. Although these items do not clean hands as thoroughly as hand washing, they may offer a certain amount of hygienic help. Used properly, antibacterial wipes tend to be better for disease prevention than hand sanitizer gels.
Give yourself a hand – or two – for preventing flu and other infections by washing hands frequently.