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How Well Do You Wash? Take This Test!

Child and Family

Each year more than 200 viruses cause what we refer to as the common cold. They are surprisingly active and extremely resilient.

But one single action can help prevent you from getting sick: properly washing your hands.

The most common way for germs to spread is via the hands. Up to 80 percent of all germs travel that way.

Did you know?

  • A person sneezing propels more than 100,000 germs up to three feet at a velocity of 200 miles per hour.
  • A person infected with a virus is most likely to spread the cold between two and four days after symptoms (i.e., runny nose, coughing, sneezing) first appear.
  • With the flu, a person can be contagious from one day before to up to seven days after symptoms first appear.
  • Viruses can live on hard surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and cell phones for up to 18 hours.
  • The flu virus has been known to live on surfaces for up to three days.

So, how do I keep myself and my family healthy?

Your most effective tools for fighting these nasty creatures is good old soap and warm water. And it doesn’t have to be any special kind of soap.

Antibacterial soap has not been shown to be any more effective than plain soap. Some suggest that it may actually increase bacterial resistance – making fighting some bacteria more difficult. If soap and water is unavailable, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Click here for a proper how-to on handwashing.

Fighting germs with … cinnamon?

Looking for a great way to show your kids (and even yourself) how good handwashing gets rid of germs? Using a teaspoon of cooking oil and a teaspoon of cinnamon, try this fun, easy exercise:

1.    Take a teaspoon of cooking oil and add a teaspoon of cinnamon for color.

2.    Coat your hands – back, front and in between your fingers.

3.    Put your hands under running water.

4.    Try to scrub off the cinnamon and oil. Not so easy, is it?

5.    Now add soap to your running water.

6.    Watch the cinnamon "germs" disappear.

7.    Wash hands while singing Happy Birthday to make sure you scrub long enough.

If you have questions about staying safe from germs, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider.

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Karen Meyer

About the Author:

As a pediatrician, it’s important to Dr. Karen Meyer that her young patients and their parents know they can come to her with any questions or concerns they have, and they will in turn receive open and honest advice. She believes in treating children in a way that will help them understand why they aren't feeling well and what they can do to get better. She also works to build trust when working with teenagers so she can help make healthy choices.

You can visit Dr. Meyer at Methodist Physicians Clinic Hawthorne Court.

See More Articles by Karen Meyer