The best way to prevent the spread of germs this holiday season is by incorporating healthy and hygienic practices into your daily routine. Most often, germs are transmitted through physical contact and the exchange of bodily fluids. Organisms and bacteria can survive for short periods of time on everyday objects that are frequently touched, such as light switches, doorknobs, TV remotes, and computer keyboards.

Wash Your Hands

Hand washing can be the best preventative medicine. Using soap and warm water, scrub the front and back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails, for at least 20 seconds, about the same amount of time it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice from beginning to end. Rinse your hands with warm water and dry them thoroughly with a dry cloth or air dry.

If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub sanitizer all over your hands and between your fingers until dry.

Throughout the day, avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, if possible. This can admit germs into your system.

Properly Prepare and Store Food

Food, especially raw or undercooked meat, can carry and transmit bacteria. Follow these tips to ensure the meals you prepare are safe as well as delicious.

  • Wash your hands. Always wash before handling food and after working with raw meat.
  • Clean surfaces. Before and after preparing food, wipe down surfaces such as kitchen counters, knife blades, and cutting boards with soap and hot water.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. If possible, use separate cutting boards, knives, and bowls for meats, seafood and fish, vegetables, and fruits. Any vegetables or fruit that comes in contact with the juice from raw meat, seafood, or fish should be washed thoroughly and cooked if at all possible.
  • Thoroughly cook meats. All meats, fish, and seafood should be cooked to their recommended internal temperatures.
  • Refrigerate leftovers. Immediately place all leftovers in a refrigerator set at 40⁰ or colder. Reheat any leftovers to an internal temperature of 165⁰.

Get Plenty of Rest and Exercise

Exercise and adequate amounts of sleep naturally boost immunity and can be your best defense against illness and infection. Children 6 – 12 years of age should have 9 – 12 hours of sleep daily and exercise at least 60 minutes each day.

Also, an annual flu vaccination is recommended for most children and adults to help fight off infection. If you are spending less time outdoors, consider adding a Vitamin D supplement, too.