We’ve heard it dozens of times in the last two weeks on the news: To help prevent Swine Flu, wash your hands.
When you wash your hands, use soap and warm water and wash them for 15 to 20 seconds, the Centers for Disease Control recommends in its Q&A “H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You.”
That’s the length of singing “Happy Birthday” twice. Be sure to scrub between the fingers and around the nails and cuticles. Also wash the backs of the hands and wrists. Then rinse and dry.
When soap and water aren’t available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
When should you wash your hands?
- Before you start and when you finish preparing meals and snacks.
- Before you eat.
- After using the restroom.
- After touching animals.
- When your hands are dirty.
- After you’ve had contact with infants and small children, especially if you’ve wiped their noses or changed their diapers.
- If you’ve had contact with children or adults who have respiratory illnesses.
- After you’ve had contact with respiratory secretions, such as blowing your nose.
When you cough or sneeze, the CDC suggests doing it into a tissue then throwing the tissue away.
However, other health agencies recommend coughing into your sleeve, your elbow, or shoulder. If you cough into your hand, then shake hands with someone, it could spread germs.
To prevent spreading germs, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
In public, germs can linger up to two hours on places such as doorknobs. When exiting public restrooms, use your shoulder to push open the door or use a paper towel on the handle or doorknob.
If you’ve used a cash machine, wash your hands before you eat.
Phones, TV remotes, and the laundry also are places germs accumulate.
What other suggestions does the CDC have for avoiding Swine Flu?
- Try to stay in good general health.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Be physically active.
- Manage your stress.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat nutritious food.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Hopefully, the Swine Flu outbreak won’t be as bad as first feared.
Today’s headlines, such as “Swine Flu Fears Ease – For Now at Least,” are encouraging.