Prevent the Flu Virus: The Importance of Hand Washing for Parents and Children

So far, the 2019-2020 flu season has been especially harmful to young children. As of January 30, 2020, there have been 54 reported pediatric deaths due to the flu virus in the United States. Nationwide, the CDC estimates that there have been 6.4 million cases of the flu, 55,000 hospitalizations, and 2,900 deaths. Staying healthy is a top priority for parents and children, and one of the best ways to avoid catching the flu is through regular hand washing.


The Cleveland Clinic says, “Viruses that cause colds and the flu most often are transmitted on the hands. People commonly catch colds when they rub their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with the cold virus. By washing your hands frequently, you wash away germs that you may have picked up from other people or contaminated surfaces.”



Prevent the Flu: Hand Washing Checklist

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says, “Rub your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. That is the amount of time it takes to recite the alphabet or to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Be sure that you reach every surface of your hands and fingernails.”


Prevent the spread of the flu virus by following these handwashing tips:


  • Use warm water (avoid hot or cold temperatures) to wash your hands.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

  • Wash your wrists, both sides of your hands, between fingers, around your nails, and anywhere germs might be present on your arms.

  • Clean the dirt underneath your fingernails.

  • Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean towel.

  • If there is no soap or water available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.



When Should Children and Parents Wash Their Hands?

Young children like to put their hands in their eyes, nose, and mouth, which is the fastest way to spread germs and catch the flu. To prevent colds and the flu this season, parents should emphasize the importance of handwashing and good hygiene, and lead by example.


Make handwashing a fun activity instead of a chore. Parents and children should wash their hands:


  • After using the bathroom

  • Before preparing or eating food