Wash your hands to prevent spread of flu

February 24, 2012

With cold and flu season fully upon us, now is a great time to refresh your hand-washing skills.

Nearly 22 million U.S. school days are missed by children each year due to the common cold (rhinovirus), and frequent hand-washing is one of the best methods to prevent spreading the virus to others.

“Remember that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are only recommended as an alternative to soap and water when hands are not visibly soiled,” says Alison Pittman, M.S.N., RN, CPN, assistant professor in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Nursing. “Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”

Are you and your family following the guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on when and how to wash your hands?

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between fingers and your nails for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands well under running water, and dry them using a clean towel or air dry method.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or helping a child with the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

— Blair Williamson