Flu season is in full swing. Whether you get a flu shot or not, there are a few other things you can do to lessen the chance you’ll get the flu or spread the flu to others.
According to the Mayo Clinic, frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.
When to Wash Your Hands
- before and after you prepare food
- before you eat
- after you use the bathroom or change a diaper
- after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- before touching contact lenses
- before and after coming into contact with a sick person or a wound
- after handling trash or soiled clothing/shoes
Kids are natural germ spreaders. They touch a lot of things, put things in their mouths, and wipe their noses on their hands. The close quarters of school make it easy for cold and flu to spread like wildfire.
Quick Tips for Kids
When you send your children off in the morning, remind them:
- to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough
- not to put their fingers in their mouth, nose, or eyes
- not to share eating utensils and cups
- to wash their hands often
The Right Way to Wash Your Hands
It’s not really washing if you just run your hands under the water and wipe them. Here’s the right way to wash your hands, according to the Red Cross:
- Wet hands with water and apply an amount of soap recommended by the manufacturer to hands.
- Rub hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and giving added attention to fingernails and surfaces where jewelry is worn.
- Rinse hands with water.
- Dry thoroughly with a disposable towel.
- Use towel to turn off faucet.
For younger children, the Red Cross suggests you have them sing a short song such as “Row Row Row Your Boat,” or the “Happy Birthday” song to ensure they wash for at least 20 seconds.
And what about those antibacterial soaps? The Mayo Clinic says that antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing germs than regular soap. In fact, using it may create more problems by helping bacteria become resistant to antimicrobial agents.
Avoid Spreading Flu
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the viruses that cause flu are spread by the droplets that form when people with flu talk, cough, or sneeze. These droplets can reach the mouths and noses of people nearby. Also, others may pick up the virus by touching something with flu virus on it, then touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. If you have the flu, take steps to avoid spreading it to others.
- If possible, stay home and avoid contact with other people.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
- Wash your hands often.
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