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When it comes to viral infections, including COVID-19, there are many different things we can be doing to protect ourselves and stop the spread. Here are some basic hygiene recommendations that everyone young and old can follow that can reduce the chances of a viral infection now and in the future.

1. Become a Hand-Washing Master

We all wash our hands regularly, which means that we all think we are washing them correctly, but the truth is that most people are not washing their hands correctly or for the proper length of time. These are the five steps, as recommended by the CDC, for proper hand washing:

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. Or sing through your ABCs. Dolly Parton fans can sing the chorus of “Jolene,” and Beyoncé fans can sing the chorus to “Love on Top.”

4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

2. Know When to Wash Your Hands

Knowing how to wash your hands is important but it’s also important to know when. In general, you should wash your hands at the following times:

• Before, during, and after preparing food

• Before eating food

• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

• Before and after treating a cut or wound

• After using the toilet

• After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

• After handling pet food or pet treats

• After touching garbage

For during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also recommended that you wash your hands:

• After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people (such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.)

• Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies

3. Be a Team Player

Are you sick, have a cough, are about to sneeze? Then you should be extra cautious for those around you. After all, a cough may feel like an inconvenience for you but for many people, whatever is giving you a cough could land them in the hospital, or worse.

People suffering from the symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing, should seek medical care and avoid contact with others.

For people who are about to cough or sneeze, pretend you are a vampire and cough into your elbow. Or cough into a tissue and dispose of it immediately. Wash your hands after in all cases. Don’t simply cough into your hand and then wipe it on your pant leg. That doesn’t actually count as cleaning.

4. Don’t Touch Your Face

Viruses can often infect us through the most porous parts of our body, namely our faces. Our eyes, noses and mouths are basically welcome mats for viruses to enter our bodies, so it’s important to avoid touching your face unless you have washed your hands immediately before. For nail biters, this is the perfect chance to stop!

For more information on viral infection prevention, visit the CDC and WHO websites. McLean Healthy Smiles is dedicated to your dental health. Contact us for any additional information on our services or other tips for avoiding viral infections.

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