Hand Washing - part of our Peabody Home Flu Season Survival Toolkit
Peabody Home will be recognizing Global Handwashing Day October 15th with some fun hand washing centered activities. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands helping to prevent infection because people frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it.
Something as simple as washing your hands with soap and hot water has proven to be the first line of defense in staying healthy especially during flu season.
At Peabody Home we are vigorous in maintaining a clean environment for residents, staff, volunteers and visitors. Not only do we encourage our staff to receive their annual flu vaccine, we practice stringent hand washing techniques.
It’s doubtful in 2019 that anyone possesses first hand knowledge of the great flu epidemic of 1918 and even harder to fathom that ‘the flu’ could have had such dire consequences on the health and vitality of our nation, and indeed the world.
In all likelihood, the onset of the deadliness flu outbreak in history started in January 1918 from Camp Funston army training camp at Fort Riley, Haskell County, Kansas. Consider the sobering fact that the 1918 pandemic was responsible for more fatalities than all the military deaths attributed to World Wars 1 and 2 combined. The virus ultimately killed at least 50 million people worldwide. Some estimate the number was closer to 100 million. 670,000 Americans died.
The interesting link with flu virus is that of cross contamination activity of different genes shuffling adroitly from birds to pigs to humans resulting in a new, perhaps especially lethal virus forming.
History repeated itself albeit with lesser human misery in 2009. That particular flu season saw H1N1, initially labelled Swine Flu, originating in Mexico, wreak havoc around the globe. The first two confirmed cases were documented in the United States in California in April of that year; perplexingly, 130 miles apart and with no identifiable connection between the two afflicted.
How to protect yourself against the flu
The first line of defense is to get your flu vaccine. Both the CDC* and the ACIP** recommend vaccine be offered by the end of October.
Second protective measure, so exquisitely simple: Wash your hands.
Studies show consistent soap and water hand washing is the most effective tool.
Did you know that only 70% of people wash their hands after visiting the bathroom.
30% of them actually use soap. 40% use water alone - they must be in a hurry!
Did you know that the average person only washes their hands for 10 seconds which will remove approximately 90% of germs present on their hands.
Bacteria left on your hands after improper washing can double in numbers in twenty minutes and eighty minutes later will have returned to pre-washed levels, as if you never washed your hands at all! Scary
A few other tips to staying healthy during flu season
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
Stay home when you are sick, you will help prevent the spread of flu by minimizing your exposure around others. At the very least, wear a mask to contain droplets passed into the air if you are actively sneezing/coughing.
Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, into the crook of your elbow, or into a tissue if you have one. Throw away tissue and immediately wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. Remember the days of handkerchiefs? Those delicate linen or cotton squares were a great way to spread germs around.
Correct handwashing should last as long as you can sing the “Happy Birthday” song- at least twenty seconds to be effective.
Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes. Germs are often spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school.
Lastly, we ask that folks keep the health and well being of our residents uppermost in their minds. If you aren’t feeling especially well, are coughing and sneezing yourself, please wait until you feel better before visiting.
*Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ** Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices