Although seasonal flu viruses may be detected year-round, they are most common during the fall and winter. Flu season activity often begins to increase in October, and peaks between December and February.
Appropriately, December is National Handwashing Awareness Month. Handwashing with soap and clean, running water is one of the easiest and best steps to avoid getting sick and keep from spreading germs to others, including respiratory infections, such as a cold or the flu. Handwashing with soap and water is simple and inexpensive, and can dramatically reduce the number of those who become sick, especially young children.
Handwashing is especially important after using the bathroom, when preparing or before eating food, and after sneezing, coughing, nose blowing. However, in order to be most effective, the CDC recommends cleaning hands in a specific way.
Be sure to wet hands with clean, running water. They can become re-contaminated if washed in a sink of standing water. However, interestingly, the temperature of the water does not seem to affect the removal of microbes.
Next, apply soap, which is more effective than using water alone to lift soil and microbes from the skin. Scrub hands thoroughly, lathering hands by rubbing them together with the soap, and be sure to include the backs of the hands, between fingers, and under nails. Washing hands for about half a minute removes more germs than washing for shorter periods of time.
Last, rinse hands well under clean, running water and air dry or dry them using a clean towel. Germs can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands, so it is better to dry them after washing.
Stay healthier this year and begin the new year by keeping your overall good health and wellness with frequent handwashing in fresh, clean running water.
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