Is it true that you have to use hot water to prevent cold and flu germs when washing your hands? Is there a proper way to wash your hands and can antibacterial gels be used as a substitute?
Keeping your hands clean year-round is one of the best ways to prevent spreading and catching illnesses. It’s especially important to be diligent about keeping your hands clean during the cold and flu season.
You should always wash your hands before you prepare or eat a meal, after you use the restroom or change a diaper, and after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose. It’s also important to wash your hands after touching trash, raw meat, chicken or fish, and after touching or cleaning up after an animal. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands have not been washed because that is typically how infection enters the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when washing your hands, you should take the following steps to ensure you clean your hands appropriately:
- Run your hands under warm water and apply soap.
- Lather the soap together and continue to scrub your hands for 15 to 20 seconds – this is about the same amount of time it would take you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- Rinse your hands thoroughly and try not to touch the faucet when you turn off the water.
- Don’t forget to clean under your fingernails!
If you don’t have access to a sink to wash your hands you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which can also kill germs. Be sure to again scrub your entire hands and fingers with the gel. It’s a good idea to keep a hand sanitizer with you in your purse, car or at your desk at work so you have easy access to it. You can never be too careful about keeping your hands clean!
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