Using proper hand washing to avoid winter colds and flus

person washing hands

With cold and flu season approaching quickly you might be wondering how to prevent yourself from losing time to sickness this winter. One thing you can do is get your flu shot. Health Services is hosting a Community Flu clinic this week in the SLC where you can get your flu shot to protect yourself from the strains of flu that are predicted to be most virulent this year. Aside from that, practising proper and frequent hand washing can help you to avoid picking up the latest cold and flu. So what does it mean to practice proper hand washing?

When to wash your hands

  • When they have visible dirt on them
  • Before and after you prepare or eat food; touch your eyes, nose, or mouth; or touch a cut or open sore.
  • After you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose; handle uncooked foods; change a diaper; use the washroom; handle garbage; or play outside.

How to wash your hands

If running water is available, wet your hands and apply soap, lathering for 15 seconds and rubbing between your fingers, the back of your hands, fingertips, and under your nails. Rinse under running water and then dry your hands thoroughly with a paper towel or a hand dryer.

If soap and water are not available, a 70-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used until you can get to a source of running water.

Other tips

Always dispose of tissues immediately after you use them. Do not reuse tissues or keep used tissues in your pocket or around the house. If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with your elbow instead of your bare hand.

With the average flu lasting 2 -  14 days, getting sick can have a major impact on your ability to attend class, visit friends and family, or go to work. Following these tips and getting your flu shot can help you to avoid germs and hopefully stay healthy this winter. For more information about our Community Flu clinic, visit our Flu clinic page.


City of Toronto Flu Fact Sheet

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