20 Seconds Can Help Defend Against The Flu

Flu season has arrived, and Harbin Clinic wants to remind everyone of a key cog in your flu defense plan - hand washing. It kills germs and bacteria and helps guard against sickness, including the flu. 

Studies show as much as 65 percent of the population washes their hands, but many people aren’t washing correctly or long enough. A few simple tweaks can lead to a big advantage in fighting the spread of germs and bacteria and keep us all healthy.

Germs, Viruses and Bacteria are bad

The average human hand contains more than 1,500 germs per square centimeter. Viruses can live anywhere from a few hours to several days outside of the body, and some bacteria can live for several months. The best defense for fighting against germs, viruses and bacteria is hand washing.

Do It Right

Hand washing seems simple enough. Put your hands under water, scrub with soap, dry and you’re done.  Not all people wash their hands thoroughly though. Every time you wash your hands you should:

  • Wet
  • Lather
  • Scrub
  • Rinse
  • Dry

Along with this, make sure to scrub your nails and wash your whole hands, including the back.

20 is Plenty

Another problematic step in regular hand washing is the amount of time spent doing it. Many people wash their hands for six seconds or less, allowing some bacteria, germs and viruses to stick around.

Twenty seconds is the optimum amount of time to wash your hands. If you don’t have a timer around, simply sing the Happy Birthday song twice or any other tune for 20 seconds.

Use Soap

Soap isn’t just for decoration. The CDC says using soap is more effective than using water alone, because soap helps lift soil and microbes from the skin. Studies also show that people who use soap tend to scrub their hands more thoroughly, helping remove even more germs.  So don’t forget to lather up.

No soap, use a hand sanitizer

If the soap has disappeared, then use an antibacterial hand sanitizer instead. While it isn’t as effective as soap and water, a sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol can help reduce the number of microbes on your hands.

Time to wash your hands

If you are in doubt or have any questions about when you need to wash your hands, here is a quick list to help.

You should wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing or eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick or after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching animal food or treats, animal cages or waste
  • After touching the garbage
  • If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy

The CDC considers hand washing as the do-it-yourself vaccine. If you follow these tips and remember that 20 is Plenty, you are on the way to a clean and healthy year.