WPS Health Insurance Blog

Hand washing helps prevent the flu and other illnesses

Posted by Ryan Kanable

Feb 7, 2013 9:00:00 AM

hand washingHave a lot of your co-workers been sick lately? This flu season has been especially rough, with more than half of the U.S. experiencing widespread flu activity. Proper hand washing can help prevent the spread of disease-causing germs in the workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most important preventive steps you can take to avoid the flu, other than getting a flu shot, is to properly wash your hands.

The CDC offers these tips on how and when to wash your hands.

How to wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

When to wash your hands

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Hand sanitizers

If hand washing facilities are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used. The CDC suggests using a sanitizer with an alcohol concentration of 60% or greater. It is important to note that hand sanitizers are effective against common diseases but are ineffective against certain organisms, such as bacterial spores. Also, hand sanitizers are less effective if your hands are dirty. Removing any dirt or debris before using hand sanitizer increases its effectiveness.

Do you have any stories about proper or improper hand washing? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment and share your experience.

Topics: health insurance, Seniors