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Staying Well this Winter

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What's one of the most important things you can do to avoid getting sick? Hand washing! All it takes is soap and water, 20 seconds of scrubbing hands and wrist and then a good rinse.

Viruses that cause colds and the flu most often are transmitted on the hands. People commonly catch colds when they rub their noses or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus. Frequent hand washing cleans away germs picked up from other people or from contaminated surfaces.

Parents can set an example by washing hands often in front of children. This teaches them that hand washing with soap and water is more than a chore it's an important way to prevent colds, sore throats and other infections. Also, because dirty hands often can carry germs, teaching children to keep their hands away from their eyes and mouth also will help prevent illness.

Hand washing takes on an especially important role during the winter months, when infectious diseases such as the flu are in season.

Help Stop the Spread of Germs

Here are some tips you can follow to protect your family's health and help prevent the spread of colds and flu to others:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissue in the waste basket.
  • If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Also be sure your family gets plenty of sleep, stays physically active, manages stress, eats healthy foods and drinks plenty of fluids.

Sources: Cleveland Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.