How to Prevent Colds and Flu: Wash Your Hands

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Mucous is everywhere. Everyone around you is sneezing and hacking. How can you stop yourself from being next in line for the creeping crud?

One of the best ways to prevent the flu and control the spread of infection is age-old and costs virtually nothing, says Dr. Martin Zinaman, staff physician at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Student Health Center.

Wash your hands. Often. And thoroughly.

Research shows that proper hand washing in childcare settings reduces the spread of colds by more than 17 percent, says Dr. Zinaman, College campuses and dormitories are similarly high-risk communities for the spread of colds and flu.

Techniques for proper hand washing:
1. Take a clean paper towel from the dispenser. Use this to turn the tap on and off.
2. Wet hands with warm water.
3. Add soap and rub hands together for 20 seconds (hum a tune or nursery rhyme while you’re doing this). Wash both front and back of hands, around nails, thumbs, wrists and knuckles. (These areas tend to get missed the most.)
4. Rinse hands for at least 10 seconds. Let the water run back into the sink, not down your elbows. Turn off tap with a paper towel.
5. Dry hands thoroughly on clean paper towels.
6. Use the paper towels to open the bathroom door on your way out.

RIT is implementing a hand washing educational campaign this fall and winter to educate students on its importance in preventing the spread of disease.

Founded in 1829, RIT is internationally recognized as a leader in computing, engineering, imaging, technology, fine and applied arts, and education for the deaf. RIT enrolls more than 15,500 students in 340 undergraduate and graduate programs.