It’s flu season in Michigan

Hospitals are seeing a wider than usual age range being admitted due to influenza in comparison to previous years. Simple handwashing steps protect you more than you may think.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), “Influenza activity is on the rise both nationwide and in all regions of Michigan. Public health officials are noticing an increase in patients of all ages being admitted to hospitals for serious influenza disease. To date, a larger proportion of these hospitalizations are occurring in young and middle-age adults as compared with most influenza seasons.” It is flu season in Michigan, so how can you protect the health of yourself and your family this winter?

It might sound simple but keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to help stop the spread of cold and flu germs all year, especially during flu season. It is critical this time of the year to keep your hands clean all day to help combat the spread of illness. We often don’t realize how many germs can be present on our hands, but need to remember that germs are everywhere and can be shared easily. Handwashing is easy to do and can be done by people of all ages. Whether you are 2-, 42- or 72-years-old, you can be a great hand washer and get rid of illness causing germs on your hands.

Handwashing may seem like a simple task, and it really is, but we need to be sure that proper handwashing techniques are also being used. To wash your hands properly Michigan State University Extension recommends the following steps:

  • Wet your hands with hot, running water
  • Apply liquid soap
  • Scrub hands for 10-15 seconds, remembering to wash both front and back of hands, as well as in between fingers
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm, running water
  • Dry hands with a single use paper towel or an air dryer

The entire handwashing process should take at least 20 seconds from start to finish. When working with children on proper handwashing, encourage them to sing a song like the “ABC’s” or “Happy Birthday,” and have them wash until they are done singing to ensure they are washing long enough to kill germs.

Critical times during the day when you should be washing your hands include:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After changing diapers or helping a child use the bathroom
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick

Thorough handwashing is so simple to do and can be beneficial to everyone’s health. If a sink is not available, keep sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizers in your car, purse, etc. to help prevent the spread of germs until you can properly wash your hands.

Also remember to stay home is you are sick so you don’t spread germs around your school or workplace, avoid close contact with someone who is ill, and cover your cough/sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.

Take extra precautions this year during flu season to be sure you are preventing germs from making you sick.

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