Basic Prevention

Alcohol based hand sanitizers are recommended but if hands are soiled with material or sanitizer has been used a number of times, then hand washing is indicated as the sanitizer may not work effectively. Hand washing remains the “gold standard”. Alcohol breaks down the germs' cell walls causing them to die. So alcohol based sanitizers must contain more than 60% ethanol or isopropanol to effectively kill the most harmful bacteria.


Hands spread an estimated 80 percent of common infectious diseases like the common cold and flu. For example, when you touch a doorknob that has the flu virus on it and then touch your mouth or eyes, you can get sick. But these disease-causing germs slide off easily with good handwashing technique.

How to wash your hands - 6 tips

  1. Remove all rings and wet your hands with warm running water.
  2. Put a small amount of liquid soap in the palm of one hand. Bar soaps are not as hygienic as liquid soaps because they stay moist and attract germs. If a bar soap is the only option it should be stored on a rack so that the bar doesn't sit in water.
  3. Rub your hands together for 20 seconds so you produce lather. Make sure you scrub between your fingers, under your fingernails and the backs of your hands.
  4. Rinse your hands well with clean running water for at least 10 seconds. Try not to handle the faucets once your hands are clean. Use a paper towel to turn off the water. Always consider the taps “dirty” as you use your unclean hands to turn taps on.
  5. Dry your hands with a single use paper towel. If you use a hand towel be sure to change it daily. During cold and flu season you may want to give each family member his or her own hand towel.
  6. Use hand lotion to put moisture back into your skin if your hands are dry.

Coughing or Sneezing

Rather than using your hands to cover a cough or sneeze use the inside part of your elbow or upper sleeve. Hands come into contact with everything but this part of your arm does not and this practice reduces the spread of germs.