Washing Your Hands: The five key steps to avoiding germs and the flu

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Washing hands under a sink.According to the Mayo Clinic, "Hand washing, when done properly, is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick." It's not enough to briefly stick your hands under running water and then dry them.

Follow these five key steps to properly clean your hands and prevent infection.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, warm running water and apply soap. Water makes the soap more effective.
  2. Rub hands together to make a lather. Scrub all surfaces including the wrists, in between fingers, the back of the hand and under the nails.
  3. Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing the alphabet song to yourself. When you get to the line, "Now I know my ABCs" it's time to:
  4. Rinse hands well under running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. It’s important to completely dry your hands. I like to tell my younger students that “germs love wet stuff”, especially wet hands. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

Always wash your hands:

  • Before preparing or eating food.
  • After going to the bathroom.
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom.
  • Before and after tending to someone who is sick.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • After handling an animal or animal waste.
  • After handling garbage.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.

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