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Proper Hand Hygiene Is Key to Avoiding Illness During Cold and Flu Season

Now is the time for parents to teach children how to keep hands clean

MORRIS PLAINS, N.J., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every three minutes, a child puts a hand in his/her nose or mouth. Considering that some viruses and bacteria can live two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks that children touch throughout the day, it is easy to see how clean hands are critical to avoiding sickness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps in avoiding getting sick and spreading germs to others. With the common cold accounting for nearly 22 million school days lost annually, according to the CDC, this is a critical time for parents to teach--or remind--the whole family of proper hand hygiene.

"There are plenty of unwashed hands out there. Only one in five of us does the job properly," says Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Arizona. "Everyone needs to be sure they understand how to wash properly and how and when to use alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers such as PURELL(R)."

Effective hand hygiene practices include washing hands frequently with soap and water and, when soap and water are not available, using an alcohol-based instant hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. PURELL(R) Instant Hand Sanitizer kills 99.99% of the most common germs that may cause illness.

Everyone, no matter what age, can benefit from a hand hygiene refresher during cold and flu season. It comes down to three basic steps:

1. Tell your children why clean hands are so important. Proper hand hygiene is critical to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

2. Show your children how to wash hands properly, according to CDC instructions:

-- Wet your hands with clean, warm water and apply soap.

-- Rub hands together to create lather and scrub all surfaces (including between fingers and under nails).

-- Continue rubbing hands for 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday).

-- Rinse hands under running water.

-- Always dry hands thoroughly.

3. Help your children keep clean anywhere they are. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers such as PURELL(R) effectively kill 99.99% of germs that may cause illness. There is no evidence that germs become resistant to alcohol -- the main ingredient in PURELL(R) -- or to other antibiotics as a result of using alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers. Show children how to use hand sanitizers properly:

-- Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the palm of one hand.

-- Rub hands together -- so that product covers all surfaces of hands and

fingers -- until hands are dry.

Then: remind, remind, remind. Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently throughout the day, particularly before eating, and after using the bathroom and playing outside. Check with your school to see if you can send your older children in with a travel-size container of PURELL(R) to carry in their backpack, for quick and easy hand cleansing when soap and water are not readily available.

PURELL(R) Instant Hand Sanitizer consumer products are marketed by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.

The CDC is not affiliated with Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., any of its affiliated companies, or the PURELL(R) brand.

SOURCE Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.
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