Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands!

Hand washing is the best way to stop the spread of colds and flu.

By FamilyTime


If you and your kids are diligent about washing your hands, chances are you won't get as many colds or have the flu this winter. Hand washing is so simple, so elementary -- and yet so often overlooked.

Using soap and warm water is far superior to rubbing antibacterial lotion on your hands, and so when possible, go the old-fashioned route. Of course, for those times when soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-washing product.

When to Wash
Encourage your kids to wash their hands often -- and practice what you preach. Wash them before every meal, before touching food (preparing it for meals), after stroking or handling pets, after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose or sneezing, before and after dressing a cut or wound, and after being exposed to anyone with a cold.

It's also a great idea for the kids to wash their hands when they get home from school -- or from anywhere outside the house. Cold germs lurk on all sorts of surfaces and in every nook and cranny!

When you go out to eat, make a beeline for the restroom before you order the meal. If this is not possible, use an antibacterial lotion that is at least 60 percent alcohol.

Whew! That's a lot of hand washing, but if you work it into your family's routine, it will become second nature.

How to Wash
Wash your hands with warm water and soap. There's no need to use antibacterial soap, although it's acceptable, and liquid soap is no better than bar soap that is stored in a self-draining soap dish, which is cleaned regularly.

The important thing is to work up a good lather and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Many experts suggest singing "Happy Birthday" -- twice!

The soap does not kill the bacteria on your hands but instead suspends the germs, as well as any dirt on the skin, so that they are washed away with the water. Because of this, it's important to lather the front and back of the hands as well as between the fingers and around the nails.

Rinse your hands well and then dry them with a clean towel. In public settings, use a paper towel or hot air blower. If you can, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet.

Clean hands are no guarantee that your kids won't get sick this winter, but they will keep the colds to a minimum, and you may avoid the flu completely. That's worth a bar of soap!