Infection Control: How to Stay Safe this Flu Season

Infection-Control_99777395.jpg

Wash Your Hands!

The number 1 way to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands.  Washing your hands consists of five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness, so you can stay healthy (CDC, 2018).  The first step is to wet your hands under running water (hot or cold).  Then lather with soap.  Scrubbing each part of your hand, hands together, fingernails to palms, between fingers, all for a minimum of 20 seconds or while singing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice.  Then rinse your hands under clean running water.  Dry them with a clean paper towel.  Be mindful of touching the faucet without the paper towel as well, you might just pick up any germs you just washed off.  Always use a barrier such as a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom doors. 

When should you 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 bathroom, changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom

·       After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

·       After touching an animal, animal food or treats, animal cages, or animal waste

·       After touching garbage

·       If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy   

Flu-Season-Tips-for-Effective-Hand-Washing-722x406.jpg

Other Steps in Infection Prevention

1.     Get Vaccinated – make sure you discuss the flu and pneumonia shot with your physician or health care provider.  Each year the flu vaccine prevents between 40 and 60 percent infections in the general public (CDC, 2018). 

2.     Avoid close contact – if others around you are sick avoid close contact with them, and if you are sick avoid contact with others to prevent them from becoming sick as well.

3.     Stay at home – when you are sick, stay at home from work, school, running errands, this will help prevent others from becoming sick.

4.     Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.  Respiratory illnesses such as the flu are spread through coughing, sneezing, and unclean hands.

5.     DO NOT touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unclean hands.  This is often a portal of entry for any germs you have picked up.  Be very mindful of this while out running errands especially.  When grabbing that cart at the store, use those sanitizing wipes and wipe it down well. 

6.     Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

In closing, I want to stress the importance of handwashing.  This is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection and is a very simple step to take.  Educate others, especially this time of year.  The flu season is from the beginning of October until the end of March the following year.  Have a happy and healthy winter season, while taking some simple steps to avoid getting sick. 

Center for Disease Control. (2018). Handwashing: Clean hands save lives. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

Center for Disease Control. (2018). Vaccine effectiveness - How well does the flu vaccine work. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm