Tis the season! Pumpkins, gourds, and turkeys are a thing of the past! Now is the time for garland, twinkle lights, packed malls, family travel and…germs. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you are going to come into contact with more people this Holiday season than usual, and right in the middle of flu season. It’s important to take precautions wherever you an. You cannot control the person next to you on the train or the previous patron in the taxi or Uber, but you can control how many germs you take with you throughout your day.
Clean Hands to Stay Healthy
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick—during flu seasons and all seasons. Though you should practice good handwashing and hygiene habits all the time for optimum health, there are specific times that people should take special care to clean their hands.
At mealtime it is important to wash hands before, during, and after meal prep. If you aren’t cooking the food, it’s still important to wash hands before eating food—no matter what you were doing before eating. We sometimes think only children with muddy hands need wash hands before eating, but you may be collecting germs on your hands from your job, your books, computer, phone, and more. Wash those germs from your hands before eating.
When providing care to sick family members, for your job, or as a parent, it’s important to wash your hands before and after care. This means hands should be washed before and after touching another person, cleaning a wound or cut, changing diapers, wiping faces, and any other interaction with a person in your care.
When caring for yourself it’s important to wash your hands. After using the toilet, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. You should even wash your hands regularly during heavy cleaning in your home, including laundry, bathrooms, countertops, and taking out the trash.
After touching animals you should wash your hands. Whether you’re bathing them, petting them, feeding them, or cleaning up after them, you should wash your hands. All animals carry germs just as humans do, except animals have hair that can hold more filth than skin or human hair can. You should also clean your hands after handling pet food and pet treats.
While traveling it’s important to maintain good handwashing and hygiene habits. It is common for to experience illness during and after a trip because germs are spread during travel when people are busier than usual and may not take the time to wash hands. Keep hand-sanitizer on hand for these times. Take precaution when on airplanes, in other enclosed spaces, and while staying in hotels and other people’s homes.
When it comes to handwashing technique, method matters. The CDC recommends a five-step method that includes: (1) wetting the hands with hot or cold water, (2) lathering soap over the hands, between fingers, and under nails, (3) scrubbing the hands for at least 20 seconds, (4) rinsing the hands well under running water, and (5) drying hands using a clean towel or air dryer. If you’re unsure about how long to scrub the hands, count to 20 or sing the “Happy Birthday” song. Teach your kids one of these 5 hand washing songs so that they can learn good handwashing habits too.