How do you fight a microscopic, invisible enemy? Very carefully.
Step 1: Wash your hands Wash your hands properly, and often: Lather and scrub with soap for 20 seconds and rinse for ten. Don't forget to remove your jewelry and wash between fingers and under nails, and avoid drying them on shared hand towels, which can spread germs.
TIP: Avoid antibacterial soap; it can increase your resistance to antibiotics. Research shows that plain soap and water kills just as many germs and is a more effective germ fighter than alcohol-based hand rubs, or hand wipes.
Step 2: Use a tissue Cough and sneeze into a tissue or, in a pinch, your sleeve in the crook of your elbow. Viruses live in the saliva and mucus in our noses and throats. When you cough into your hands, the virus has a chance to spread to everything you touch.
TIP: If everyone washes their hands as soon as they enter your home, school germs will stay at school, work germs will stay at work, and illness will be less likely to spread.
Step 3: Get immunizations Get your shots. Immunizations are the first line of defense against many viruses, including flu and pneumonia, especially important for infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Step 4: Clean surfaces Keep your home, office, and car clean. Regularly clean all surfaces, especially things that get touched a lot, with a household cleaner or a spray bottle of bleach and water, which eradicates a range of bacteria, viruses, and mold.
TIP: Moist sponges and rags can breed bacteria, and wiping with a dirty sponge spreads these germs to new surfaces. Sterilize them by running them through the dishwasher or by microwaving for one minute.
Step 5: Avoid the sick If it is possible, avoid people who are actively sick and don't share their food, pillows or towels. When caring for young children who are ill, limit your exposure.
Step 6: Stay home Avoid places where many people are in close quarters, allowing illness to spread easily, like schools, offices, and airplanes. And if you happen to be sick, have the courtesy to stay home so others can steer clear!
Step 7: Be healthy Stay healthy. Eat right, get plenty of vitamin C, exercise, and rest, and you will be much less likely to fall prey to illnesses caused by germs.
FACT: The most germ-laden room in a house is not the bathroom but the kitchen.