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When Hand Sanitizer is Useless Against the Flu

September 28, 2019

It’s an icky fact: That elevator button or door knob you just touched? It likely has germs on it. If you want to avoid an illness — especially during flu season, which can last from November through April – then be sure to wash those hands. Do it the right way and do it often, several times a day.

Germs can live on any surface for two hours or more. If someone in your office or school is sick, those germs that made them sick can reside on anything they’ve touched – desks, phones, coffee pots, microwaves, cafeteria tables, toys and books.

One of the best ways to prevent sickness and the spread of germs is good hand hygiene. When flu prevention experts advise you to wash your hands, they don’t mean a light drizzle of water. Always use both soap and warm water and rub hands together for 15 to 20 seconds. Sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice while rubbing, to keep track of the time. Don’t forget your fingernails and cuticle areas. These are areas that we often don’t pay attention to when washing.

And covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze is more than good manners. It is another helpful measure to avoid spreading germs to other people. When possible, use a tissue to sneeze or cough into. Otherwise, cough or sneeze into your arm instead of your hand. If you sneeze or cough right onto your hand, then everything you touch will become infected!

It’s also helpful to keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers close by. If you don’t have access to a sink and warm water, a gel sanitizer or an alcohol-based hand wipe is easy to grab to clean dirty hands. The gel doesn’t need water to work; just rub hands until your hands are dry. To stop flu germs, though, always use soap and water.

At the office, the paper towel is a very good friend and a great way to avoid flu germs. Use a paper towel to open a door, turn a faucet or grab from the towel dispenser or even to touch elevator buttons.

These tips may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t practice good hand hygiene.

Learn more about cold and flu prevention here

Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent Care centers are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment, check wait times or to find other GoHealth locations, click here