Flu season’s coming up.
Does everyone have their Flu Pre-Pack? That’s a list of handy things to have around the house in case of flu. Even if it isn’t the Thousands-Dead-In-The-Streets Mass Horror Pandemic Flu (which will arrive someday, maybe this year, maybe not), being ready will make things easier if you catch the flu.
Next, have you had your flu shot? Right now, in October, is the time for the really vulnerable folks to get ‘em: That’s the people who are sixty-five or older, the folks with chronic health problems (diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc.), pregnant women, children ages 6-23 months, and health-care workers (I’m getting mine at 0745 this coming Thursday). Next month, November, is the right time for the household members who live with the folks listed in the last sentence, people aged fifty to sixty-four, and everyone else. December, January, and February aren’t too late if you haven’t gotten one already, but do try to go early. Flu is nasty, it kills people, and can be prevented.
Which brings us back to the main point of this post: How to Wash Your Hands. Wash your hands before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, and any time they are grossly contaminated. (In between, use pump-action alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.) The single best way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands. But not everyone knows how to do it. Here’s how:
1) Turn on the water and get it to a temperature you like.
2) Lather up using soap. (Soap does not kill germs in the time that the germs are exposed during hand washing. There’s stuff that grows fine on a bar of soap. The surfactant action of soap helps the running water flush the germs away. That’s how it works. It’s purely mechanical. Antibacterial soap is a waste of time and money, and just helps breed antibiotic-resistant bugs.)
3) Rub your hands vigorously together, paying special attention to the fingernails, getting up onto the wrists, for as long as it takes you to sing one stanza of The Star Spangled Banner or two verses of Little Mattie Groves.
4) Rinse off the soap with the running water.
5) Dry your hands with a paper towel.
6) Use the expended paper towel to turn off the water.
As long as we’re on the subject of cleaning, when you clean a surface using bleach to kill germs, remember to use a dilute solution. One part liquid bleach in ten parts water or thereabouts. The reason for this is: Many germs will spore up if confronted with harsh poisons, but won’t if you hit them with a milder dose. Think of it this way: If it’s pouring outside you wear a raincoat, galoshes, a rain hat, and carry an umbrella, and arrive at work fairly dry. But if it’s just misting outside you may not get all geared up like that — and you’ll arrive at work soaked to the skin. So too with bugs and germs.
Go, and be cleanly. And don’t catch the flu. It really is nasty.
Copyright © 2007 by James D. Macdonald
I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. These posts are presented for entertainment purposes only. Nothing here is meant to be advice for your particular condition or situation.
How To Wash Your Hands by James D. Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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…it’s not quite correct, particularly in the context of flu, to say that soap does not kill “germs.” It does not kill some bacteria, but it does kill some, and for many viruses, particularly enveloped RNA viruses such as flu and HIV, soap destroys them by solubilizing their lipid- based envelope and lysing the virions.Reference: Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings