Friday, July 18, 2008

Clean your home, protect your health

Ever heard the old saying "cleanliness is next to saintliness?" As it turns out, cleanliness is also key to healthiness, especially when it comes to infectious diseases.

By following good hygiene practices, disinfecting our homes and safely disposing of waste, we can all help fight the spread of infectious disease, according to a new fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The fact sheet, "Control of Pandemic Flu Virus on Environmental Surfaces in Homes and Public Places," highlights everyday things you can do to prevent the spread of disease, such as using your sleeve to cover your sneeze instead of your hands. The suggestions focus on stopping the spread of germs early, which is when it counts the most. Some of the tips are obvious -- such as washing your hands before eating or disinfecting kitchen counters -- while others are less well-known.

Among the tips:
• Wash your hands before removing clothes from the washer or dryer, especially if you've sneezed or coughed.
• Take care not to fluff or shake sheets or linens when removing them from beds for cleaning.
• Wash common surfaces, such as doorknobs, door handles, remote controls, phones and microwave buttons.
• Don’t forget to sanitize surfaces in your car, such as the steering wheel, stick shift, radio or window controls.
• Carry alcohol-based hand wipes or sanitizing gels when you’re away from home in case you can’t find a place to wash your hands.
• Teach your kids to follow good hygiene while away from home, especially at school -- where diseases often spread.
• Wash your hands after emptying waste baskets.

Remember: Even though these tips are aimed at pandemic flu, many of them can also work against other infectious diseases. Our recommendation? Take a look at the fact sheet and find ways to build these practices into your everyday life now, as they are bound to pay off sooner rather than later.

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