With the arrival of fall and the start of school comes cold, flu and stomach bug season. Luckily, preventing the spread of these common viral or bacterial illnesses is as easy as washing your hands –properly and often!
Hand washing: 20 seconds or more!
To wash your hands effectively, all you need is regular soap and water! Alcohol-based antiseptic formulas are very convenient, but should be reserved for specific circumstances (e.g. on a picnic or if using a public washroom with no soap or running water). A proper hand washing must also last at least 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday!”
Hand washing in 7 easy steps
Here are step-by-step instructions for effective hand washing:
- Remove rings.
- Wet hands with warm water.
- Apply 3 to 5 ml of soap to palms.
- Lather palms.
- Wash fingers (between, under and around; don’t forget the thumbs).
- Clean underneath fingernails.
- Rub the back of each hand.
- Rinse and dry hands with a paper towel, a clean towel or an air dryer.
It is important to wash your hands:
- After using the washroom or changing a baby’s diaper;
- Before preparing, handling, serving or eating food;
- After blowing your nose or assisting a child;
- After coughing or sneezing.
Good to know!
According to public health authorities, you increase your risk of catching common infections, such as the flu, a cold or a stomach bug, when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your fingers.
Driving home the message with kids!
At school or during after-school care, children are taught the importance of proper hand washing. But the message needs repeating, since kids do not always take the time to do it properly. At home, make frequent hand washing a house rule and practise the technique with them, if necessary.
With the start of school, it is also very important to remind children to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow.
Good to know!
Eggs from parasites, like pinworms, can gather underneath children’s fingernails and make their way to their intestines. To prevent this type of infection, encourage them to stop biting their nails. You also want to make sure their nails are kept short and clean.
Do you have questions about common infections and their treatment? Talk to your pharmacist for expert advice!