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Getting the Jump on the Cold and Flu Season

Developing a great defense against those germs

The great vacation migration is over ... school is back in session ... and summer is a fading memory. The fall schedule changes make it the perfect time to re-evaluate your health habits and explore measures that will help prepare your family for winter’s inevitable cold and flu season. But getting the family on board with germ-preventing practices can be challenging, says Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI). As in football, the best defense is a good offense!

First Line of Defense: Clean Hands soapy hands

Frequent handwashing is the number-one way to prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and flu.

Hands should be washed before:

  • Eating or preparing food
  • Treating wounds or giving medicine
  • Touching a sick or injured person

Hands should be washed after:

  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the bathroom
  • Changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal
  • Blowing your nose
  • Coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds
  • Touching a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage

The key to getting into good handwashing habits is to have the necessary supplies conveniently at hand. Whether you choose to use bar soap or liquid hand soap – just be sure there’s one or the other at every sink in the house. And don’t assume everyone knows how to do it properly. Posting instructions near every sink might just get their attention. Here’s the play-by-play:

  • Wet hands with warm, running water.
  • Apply soap, rub hands together vigorously to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  • Continue scrubbing for 20 seconds or about as long as it takes to sing one verse of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
  • Rinse well under warm, running water.
  • Dry hands thoroughly.

In strategic spots where there’s no running water, such as the playroom, the back deck, the garage and the car, stock up on hand sanitizer or hand wipes.

Remember, too, that kids learn by example. So make sure all the grown-ups in the house follow the team rules. Download FREE handwashing bookmarks, posters and storybooks from ACI and share these handwashing tips with your team.

Second Line of Defense: Good Cleaning Practices
Use a disinfectant cleaning product to keep germs under control on countertops, cutting boards, dishes and utensils. Don’t neglect the turf under your feet. Kitchen floors are a good breeding ground for germs.

Third Line of Defense: Pay Attention to the Sidelines
Light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles, drawer pulls, remote controls and other surfaces that everybody touches are great places for germs to linger and breed. For quick, frequent cleaning, keep pop-up disinfectant wipes within easy reach, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom. Be sure to choose a location that is accessible to adults but not children.

Fourth Line of Defense: Level the Playing Field with a Flu Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting an annual flu shot to help protect yourself and others from the flu.