Clean hands prevent cold and flu

December 2, 2019 by Suzann Radke, LPN
Clean hands prevent cold and flu

Did you know there is no vaccine to prevent the common cold or that the flu vaccine is just one step you can take to stay healthy?

The single most important thing you and your child can do to prevent the spread of cold and influenza virus is to wash your hands! The first week in December is National Handwashing Awareness Week. Personal hygiene begins and ends with our hands.

Endorsed by the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, the four principles of hand awareness are: 1) Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating; 2) Do not cough into hands; 3) Do not sneeze into hands; and 4) Don't put your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.

Learning hand hygiene begins long before children can read and write. The American Cleaning Institute offers parents, grandparents, daycare providers, teachers and anyone influencing the lives of young ones 5 Finger Tips to help prevent children from getting sick, spreading illness and missing school.

  1. Set a good example by washing your own hands often and properly.

  2. Teach kids to wash their hand for at least 20 seconds, rinsing and drying completely.

  3. Explain to kids the reasons they should wash up, to keep from getting sick and spreading germs.

  4. Tell kids when to wash, such as after using the bathroom, before eating and after touching animals, blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing.

  5. Keep alcohol-based sanitizers, gels or antibacterial wipes on hand when soap and water are unavailable.

Statistics indicate that up to 20% of the United States will get the flu. Prevention is key to keeping yourself healthy.  In fact, there are several steps you can take to avoid catching and spreading the cold and flu. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you avoid getting sick:


  • Clean your cell phone often.

  • Avoid high intensity workouts that stress your body.

  • Consider getting a flu shot.

  • Avoid shaking hands.

  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve.

  • Sanitize surfaces and work stations.

  • Drink plenty of water to help hydrate and flush out your system.

  • Wash your hands regularly.


  • Deprive yourself of sleep. Sleep will keep your immune system strong.

  • Be afraid to take a sick day to heal.

In summary, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls hand washing “a do-it yourself vaccine” and suggests remembering five easy steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry.