Flu season is here again, and with the dangers of Swine Flu (H1N1 Flu) on the rise, preventing your children from getting sick is likely a higher priority than normal. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or formula that can help keep germs away--but there is an easy strategy you can implement immediately to help keep your children healthy.  

The experts say that frequent hand washing can be the best defense against illness. But the key to successfully prevent germs from infecting your whole family is teaching them how to wash the right way.

Get the Facts

The main thing parents need to know is that using proper hygiene will go a long way to prevent germs that cause a variety of common illnesses, including colds, bronchiolitis and infectious diarrhea. In fact, a recent study looking at the impact proper hand washing can make on the spread of germs found that when families received information about correct hand washing technique, their children's risk of illness was reduced by about 50 percent.

This makes sense when you consider how germs are spread in the first place. Whenever somone comes into contact with germs, if he then touches the eyes, nose or mouth, it's only a matter of time before sickness sets in.

The germs can also easily be spread to others in the following ways:

  • Touching them with unclean hands
  • Releasing droplets through a cough or sneeze
  • Leaving germs on surfaces
  • Contaminating food or drink

Good Hand Washing Technique

But you can easily teach your kids how to wash their hands well and scrub the illness-causing germs away. Here are some tips to help prevent germs and keep them safe:

  • Make sure that your children wash in hot water (just be sure it isn't so hot it will burn their sensitive skin)
  • Use soap and work it into a lather (you don't need antibacterial soap)
  • Thoroughness makes a difference, so encourage getting the soap in between fingers, underneath nails and up to the wrist area, since these are places where germs exist
  • Have your kids wash for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing cleaner if soap and water aren't available

Frequency Matters

It is also important to know when to wash your hands and how often to prevent germs as well. You should teach your children (and yourself) to wash after using the bathroom, touching an animal, playing outside and being around sick friends or relatives. Your family should also remember to wash after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, cleaning the house and before eating or cooking.

Don't Let Germs Get in the Way

With increasing concern about the spread of Swine Flu this fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has teamed up with Lysol ® to release a new website called the Ounce of Prevention Kids (at www.oopkids.com) to teach kids the basics of good health through interactive games and kid-friendly information that reminds users that the control is in your hands (literally!) when it comes to keeping illness away. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




Healthykids.org/The Nemours Foundation


Lysol's ® Germ Information Center


National Center for Biotechnology Information