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Handwashing: Your Secret Weapon Against the Cold and Flu

Cold and flu season will be here soon. Do you want to proactively avoid getting sick? It’s simple: wash your hands! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that handwashing could reduce your risk of catching respiratory illnesses, like the common cold, by 16 to 21%, and diarrhea-related illnesses by 31%. Think you know all there is to know about handwashing? Think again: here’s the why, when, and how of proper handwashing:

  • Why wash your hands? Like it or not, your hands are germ magnets. Using the restroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, and handling raw meat all put you in contact with germs. And those germs are transferrable to anything you touch, be it a handrail, food, or your mouth or nose, which can lead to you or someone else becoming sick. Handwashing helps stop these germs in their tracks.
  • When to wash your hands? Wash your hands before, during, and after preparing human and pet food and before you eat. You should also wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, tending to a wound or to someone who is sick, and after touching garbage or other germ-filled situations.
  • How to wash your hands? The CDC recommends a specific process: First, wet your hands with clean, running, warm or cold water. Then, lather your hands with soap, making sure to get the backs of hands, in between fingers, and under fingernails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds; if it helps, hum the full tune to “Happy Birthday” twice. Rinse your hands under clean, running water and dry with a fresh towel or air dry. If you don't have soap or running water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Source: CDC

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