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Wash Your Hands!

2011 January 6

By Lina Younes

Winter is commonly referred to as the cold and flu season. Given the cold temperatures, increasingly people will stay indoors where they may be more exposed to others who already have colds. No doubt that indoor air quality is essential for our health. So, what can we do to prevent these colds and the flu? Maintaining a distance from those who are sick may be helpful, but what do you do when a close family member is sick or you come in contact with someone who still doesn’t show signs of a cold? Well, preventing colds may be easier than you think. Point of advice: wash your hands often!

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways of preventing the spread of germs including those of the common cold. It’s important to wash hands before, during and after preparing food as well as eating. Also, wash your hand after coughing or sneezing to avoid spreading your own germs. Although hand sanitizers can reduce germs in some situations, good old fashion water and soap still remains the best cleaning method.

As a child, I was always prone to colds. I didn’t completely outgrow them, but I have noticed that in the last year or two they have become less frequent. What have I done differently? Well, after I go to the bathroom and wash my hands, I keep a clean paper towel to open the doors along the way, thus preventing exposure to some hard surfaces like door knobs and elevator buttons which might be contaminated with cold germs. I cannot say scientifically if the combination of increased hand washing plus the paper towel is the main cause, but I’ve definitely seen the benefits by suffering less colds.

Since small children tend to put their hands and objects in their mouth, teaching them to wash their hands well and often will be good preventing medicine. Washing hands often is a good habit that applies to people of all ages. Have a health year!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 6, 2011

    Give Me Five !!!
    Trends urban-people in the world, especially in my country, now, are sick. Hypertension, stroke, cancer, heart disease, gastritis and headaches. From richest until poorest people together against “them”. But most of the people do not care and not know how to tackle their problem. You are right, Lina, “life-style” must be taught since earlier to prevent human problems next. Give me five !

  2. Alexander permalink
    January 7, 2011

    I’m agree. We must needs to wash our hands, face, feet, oral cavity and so on. But it’s principal we must needs to wash our environment, our Earth.

  3. Alexander permalink
    January 7, 2011

    Dear friends! I want to add that to kill microbes of influenza one can so. It is necessary to soap the nostrils by simple soap without additions. The principle of effect: microbes can’t live in alkaline surroundings, which the soap makes.

  4. Beth Lazenby permalink
    August 11, 2011

    Washing hands is truly a vitally important preventative measure in the fight against germs. It’s great that you’re creating awareness for this cause, and also the necessity of encouraging children in good hand washing habits, something which will benefit them for life.

    There are however so many people who do wash hands at the appropriate times but neglect to do so properly, which really is not much better than washing hands at all. The process should take at least fifteen seconds and very surface of the hand should be thoroughly soaped, scrubbed, rinsed and dried. For a video demonstrating the right hand washing technique, have a look here

    Thanks again for the article!

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