Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of illness.

Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and always wash hands after going to the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, touching pets and before making food.

How to wash your hands correctly

  • Wet your hands under warm running water.
  • Scrub all parts of your hands with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds (that is, the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice). Make sure you create a good lather, and scrub fingertips and under the nails.
  • Rinse hands under warm running water to remove the lather for 10 seconds.
  • Use a paper towel to pat dry your hands, to turn off the tap and to open the bathroom door.

Other ways to prevent illness

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Throw out tissues after blowing or wiping your nose after sneezing or coughing.
  • Use steps for protection against germs and disease when handling all blood or body fluids.
  • When antibiotics are prescribed by a doctor take all of the medicine. This will lower the chance of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work for infections caused by a virus. 
  • If you think your child has chicken pox, pertussis (whooping cough), influenza (flu) or measles call your doctor's office or nearest Emergency Department before bringing your child. This will lower the chance that your child will infect others.
  • Clean surfaces such as counter tops and cutting boards with soap and water and sanitize with 2 ml bleach/1 L of water before and after preparing food. Cover the food and store it at recommended temperatures. Visit food safety at home for more food safety tips.

Check with your local public health unit.