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How to Prevent Germs from Spreading

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Cold and flu season is here and I just talked earlier this week about things you shouldn’t share with others. Now, here are a few more ways to keep germs from spreading.

Hand Washing

Duh. But, you don’t need any super fancy special soaps. Regular plain old soap and warm to hot water is the best way to do it. Amy Crawford-Faucher, MD, family physician and clinical assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says, “Hand washing is probably not only the simplest, but also the most effective way to minimize spreading germs outside the home or once [they get] into your home.” She recommends scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, or however long it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Sleeve Sneeze

When you feel like you’re going to sneeze and can’t get to a tissue in time, sneeze into your sleeve. It’s what long sleeves are for if you ask my dad. Same goes for coughing. When you cough and sneeze into your sleeve or crook of your arm, It prevents germs and viruses being spread through touch. Even if you do have a tissue, Dr. Amy says once you throw it away, make sure to wash your hands right away.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

The thing you were taught all through elementary school is a good rule to keep going through adulthood. When someone coughs or sneezes, water droplets travel through the air and land on your skin. One way to keep from getting sick is to stop touching your skin and face and then putting your fingers in your mouth, in your eyes, and up your nose. Getting kids to do the same won’t be that easy, so Dr. Amy says that it’s important to teach your kids to focus on good hand washing techniques.

Sanitize Touch Points

Light switches, refrigerator handles, drawer pulls, cupboard knobs, keyboards, phones, faucets, door knobs and remote controls are all places we touch daily and a lot. Hit these spots on the regular with sanitizing wipes or a mix of bleach and water. Dr. Amy says, check your children’s toys as well and see if they can be run through the dishwasher. Stuffed animals can also be cleaned by throwing them in a pillowcase and tossing them in the washer. Same goes for backpacks and lunchboxes that travel between school, daycare and home.

Get a Flu Shot

There are a lot of myths flying around about the flu shot, but the Centers for Disease Control recommends that anyone age six months and older be vaccinated. The same goes for those who work with children, the elderly or anyone in the “risk” category like asthmatics like me. Even though you get a flu shot, it’s not 100 percent effective, so continue to get good sleep, drink plenty of water, and practice good hand washing techniques.

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