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Handwashing and the Flu

December 2021 | Paragon Healthcare
In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week (Dec. 5 – 11) and to help keep you and your loved ones safe, here are a few easy tips for maintaining hand hygiene and preventing flu infections.
Handwashing and the Flu

The US and much of the world have enjoyed a welcomed reduction in flu case numbers in the last year and a half. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in some areas of the US, it’s likely we will see flu cases increase this year. Influenza is a serious and contagious virus so we can’t forget the proper precautions we should take every year.

Receiving the flu vaccine every year is recommended for anyone six months of age and older. Because influenza can present different strains each year, we cannot anticipate the severity of this year’s flu season. In honor of National Handwashing Awareness Week (Dec. 5 – 11) and to help keep you and your loved ones safe, here are a few easy tips.

Hand Hygiene

You should wash your hands thoroughly:

  • When visibly dirty
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After using the restroom
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before and after caring for a sick person
  • Before and after eating and preparing food
  • After handling uncooked foods (particularly raw meats)
  • After changing diapers or assisting child who has used the restroom
  • Before and after caring for a sick person
  • After handling garbage
  • After handling an animal or animal waste
  • After handling items contaminated by floodwater or sewage

Proper hand hygiene can make a difference. So, what is “proper” hand hygiene anyway?

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use friction when washing hands
  • Focus on all areas of hands (tops, palms, fingers, fingernails and wrists)
  • Rinse
  • Dry or pat-dry your hands thoroughly with a clean paper towel or allow them to air dry

If soap isn’t available, you can also clean your hands with a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Allow hands to air dry. Do not dry with paper towels or fan hands to dry when using hand sanitizers.

In addition to proper handwashing, there are additional measures you can take to help prevent the spread of the flu this year:

  • Wear a mask: Wear mask according to CDC guidelines for COVID and when not feeling well indoors if around others.
  • Keep your fluids to yourself. Sneezes and coughs happen – make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue or deep into your inner elbow rather than into a hand.
  • No touching. Keep your hands out of your eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible.
  • Stay home. If you have the flu or suspect that you do, stay home until your overall symptoms have improved and your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medications.
  • Wipe it down. Clean and disinfect hard surfaces and objects. The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces for up to three days, so disinfection can be a crucial step to prevent spread.

Preventing the spread of an infectious disease can be hard work, but remember, we do it for the good of our communities, friends and families. Although our current focus has been on COVID, we need to remember we are entering flu season, and this too can be a dangerous illness for people.   Continue to focus on the safety measures we have been following (masks, hand hygiene, staying home when sick) to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

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The Paragon Healthcare, Inc. blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or someone you know has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional treatment because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately. The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.
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