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Keeping Colds and Other Contagious Infections Contained

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Teach Family Members to Wash Hands Frequently continued...

To wash hands properly, follow these steps:

  1. Wet your hands and apply liquid or clean bar soap. Place bar soap on a soap dish that allows it to drain.
  2. Rub your hands together vigorously, scrubbing all surfaces for 15 to 20 seconds. That's about how long it takes to hum the song "Happy Birthday to You" twice.
  3. Rinse well and dry your hands. In a public restroom, use the air dryer or paper towels.
  4. In the absence of soap and water, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers.

Understand the Antibacterial Soap Debate

Antibacterial soaps kill germs on contact while ordinary soap releases germs from the skin so the bacteria are washed down the drain or wiped off on towels. The jury is out on whether antibacterial soaps are more effective against germs than soap and water. Manufacturers claim they are, but a recent CDC study of 224 households over a one-year period showed that antibacterial soap users were no healthier than regular soap users.

The jury is also out on whether overuse of antibacterial soaps promotes development of super-germs resistant to antibiotics.

In Times of Illness, Make Every Day a Wash Day

Containing illness is hard work. When you or a loved one is ill, it's advisable to wash towels, washcloths, pillows, and bedding daily. You may want to wash the stuffed animals that kids cuddle to remove germs. Be sure to separate toothbrushes when a family member is sick to avoid germs spreading in the bathroom.

Disinfect Germ Hotspots in Your Home

Germs are sneaky. Not only are they invisible, but viruses can lurk on surfaces for a few hours, and bacteria can remain quietly on surfaces for up to three days. To keep catchy infections contained, use a common disinfectant on the following household hotspots when someone in the family is ill:

  • Phones
  • Remote controls
  • Microwaves and refrigerator handles
  • Door handles
  • Toilet seats and handles
  • Faucets
  • Light switches
  • Computer keyboards/mouse
  • Video game handheld controls or joysticks
  • Toys

What's the best disinfectant? The CDC recommends inexpensive chlorine bleach, which is effective against viruses. Add one-fourth of a cup of bleach to one gallon of warm water and allow the mixture to sit on the hotspot surface for 10 minutes before rinsing. Whenever disinfecting surfaces, you should wear rubber gloves, ventilate the area, and, if you're sensitive to chemicals, wear a mask. Wash your hands after removing the rubber gloves.

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