Even though you can get a cold or the flu any time of the year, November through March (in North America) is considered "flu season". Because we interact on the farm with so many customers, we can be susceptible to lots of germs that our immune system has yet to encounter.
Besides taking elderberry juice, the number one prevention that we take to avoid getting sick is to regularly and thoroughly wash our hands (with awesome goat milk soap, of course)!
If you want to do everything you can to help your family stay healthy this flu season, make sure you and your family are washing your hands properly. After all, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick from the germs you encounter.
Wash your hands often.
Not only are germs everywhere, but there are many ways that we can pass germs around if we're not regularly washing our hands. Germs get passed around through blood, sweat, saliva, oils on your hands, dirt, and the air. They then end up on the items we touch and you will find them on the shopping cart at the store, your phone, handrails in stairways at work, or a counter at a restaurant.
Our immune system is capable of fighting these germs, but we can support our immune system by giving it fewer germs to deal with. The CDC suggests not only regular handwashing but washing hands after these specific activities:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating
- While caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the restroom
- During childcare, changing diapers, etc.
- After coughing or sneezing on your hands
- After blowing your nose
- During animal care such as feeding, cleaning up after, grooming, or playing
- After touching garbage
We also recommend regular handwashing after enjoying our on-the-farm activities, such as the Baby Goat Experience or petting or feeding the goats through the fence.
That can seem like quite a lot of handwashing and so it's important that you're using a quality soap. Not only do you want a soap that will rid you of germs, but you want one that won't dry your skin out. There are many benefits to goat milk soap and most people find that even with multiple handwashings a day, their skin is left in great condition.
"What I liked about your goat soap compared to other goat soap is yours is very silky and creamy I only use it on my face it leaves my face feeling clean, soft, it leaves my complexion looking great, and the smells are amazing." - Renee
Teach your children to regularly wash their hands.
Not only is it important that you wash your own hands, but your children need to learn to wash up as well. Children (as you probably already know) spread germs often and freely and so it is vital to assist them with handwashing at a young age.
But it is important that you teach them to make regular handwashing a habit. One of the best ways to do this is to lead by example with your own frequent handwashing. Start when your children are quite young (when they'll often find handwashing a fun game).
It is important to remind children (and you will need to remind them quite often) to wash their hands. But it will help them to learn to wash without your prompting if you give them "anchor points" to which they can anchor the habit so that handwashing becomes a part of their regular routine. The CDC list from above includes great anchor points. Every time your child goes to the bathroom, wash his hands. Every time your child gets ready to help you make dinner, wash her hands. Be consistent with your reminders, and it will quickly become a habit for both you and your child.
It's often helpful to use lukewarm or water at a comfortable temperature which will encourage your kids to wash for a sufficient amount of time. Some people worry that they need to use hot water when washing their hands, but you aren’t likely to get water hot enough to kill germs in your sink. And you want children to spend time really washing their hands so make the ‘chore’ as comfortable as possible.
A proper amount of time for handwashing is around 20 seconds. That really isn’t very long and is about as much time as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" chorus. In fact, having your children sing is a great way to make handwashing fun and to keep them at the sink for a sufficient length of time.
Make sure your kids rinse their hands thoroughly after each washing. Insufficient rinsing can not only cause irritation but can encourage germs to stick to wet surfaces which they prefer. You don't want your children to have hands with sticky soap left on them.
Use free-flowing water for rinsing and washing hands. Soap will help the water wash away germs, but germs can remain in standing water.
Bar soap vs liquid soap
People sometimes question if bar soap is as sanitary as liquid soap. According to Elaine L. Larson, Ph.D., Associate Dean for research and professor of epidemiology in nursing at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, “Germs can and most likely do live on all bars of soap, but it's very unlikely they will make you sick or cause a skin infection."
If you wash your hands for at least 20-30 seconds and rinse under running water, they are unlikely to gather germs from the bar of soap. And remember that germs are also likely to live on your liquid soap container.
To keep your soap germ free, make sure it can completely dry out between uses. Don't leave it sitting in a puddle of water and instead use a soap rest or soap saver. Remember, most germs prefer moist conditions.
"This is a handy way to use and store soap. I like the soap stay clean and dries quickly." - Gail
Don't forget to dry your hands.
Another important aspect of handwashing is drying. Make sure you dry your hands every time they are washed because wet hands attract more germs. It is preferable to use a clean towel or paper towels.
Dirty hand towels that remain damp can harbor germs and reinfect your clean hands. So if you're using hand towels in your bathrooms, make sure they are hung up so they can dry and switch them out regularly and frequently, especially during flu season.
We hope that you and your family stay healthy this flu season. Boost your immune system and keep your hands clean with goat milk soap.