Your Hands, Plus Soap, Water = Increased Protection From Flu. Clean Hands Save Lives.

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

Managing Editor

(Victor Valley) – The cold weather is here, and the change in temps usually brings on cold and flu season. 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Public Health Officer for the County of San Bernardino, explained, “It is important to practice good hygiene. By washing our hands and keeping good hygiene we can help prevent the spread of disease, particularly the flu.”

Dr. Ohikhuare further explained that diseases like the flu are spread from person to person in droplets when we cough and sneeze. To prevent this, cover your mouth and nose when we sneeze or cough. “We can do this in one of two ways – we can do it by using a tissue when we cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue away and then clean our hands after that. The other way is to cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.”

You should also 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 cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. And hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

The CDC recommends the proper way to wash your hands is to use warm, running water, then rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Do this for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

For more information on health and safety topics visit the CDC’s website http://www.cdc.gov/

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