How to protect your family from the flu

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - As the flu continues to rapidly spread across East Tennessee, we're looking at ways to help keep your family healthy.

East Tennessee Children's Hospital says the flu is highly contagious and can spread fast. Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. According to Children's Hospital, hand washing also helps protect against other germs and illnesses that there aren't vaccines for, like the common cold.

But how to wash your hands?

Children's Hospital advises you use warm water when you wash your hands. Use whatever soap you like. Some soaps come in cool shapes and colors or smell nice, but whatever kind gets you scrubbing is the kind you should use. 

Work up some lather on both sides of your hands, your wrists, and between your fingers. Don't forget to wash around your nails and wrists.

Wash for about 20 seconds — about how long it takes to sing "Happy Birthday." Sing it quickly two times or just once if you go nice and slow. Then, rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

"You want to make sure you're getting in between your fingers. If you have rings on get around them. If you have long sleeves on, you want to pull them up and get around your wrists," said Sandra Hardin,  the Infection Control Manager at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. 

So when should you wash your hands?

  • After using the bathroom.
  • After blowing your nose or coughing
  • Before eating serving or preparing food
  • After touching pets or other animals
  • After outdoor activities
  • Before and after visiting anyone who is sick
  • When your hands are dirty
  • After changing a diaper
  • After cleaning your home

Hardin said it's also important to disinfect the everyday items your children touch, including coats, gloves, scarves, backpacks, phones and tablets.

"With backpacks, whoever is behind the child coughing and touching or pushing they'll have germs on that. If you take alcohol and spray that regularly that will help cut down on the germs," said Hardin. "Cell phones can be dirtier than toilets. You should disinfect them a few times a day." 

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