Everyone, Everywhere…Safer Healthier Home
October 19-25, 2015 is Infection Control Week
As part of this year’s National Infection Control Week activities, Oct. 19-25, Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services is encouraging people to consider their health needs at home and while travelling and to take actions in their own homes and communities. Activities that can prevent the spread of infectious diseases include:
- Frequent hand washing
- Stay home when you are sick
- Ask a health professional about getting the flu shot to protect yourself and the most vulnerable
Infection control practices reduce the risk of disease and the spread of illnesses.
Every October, National Infection Control Week highlights infection control efforts in Canadian hospitals, long-term care facilities and in the community.
Eight keys to a safer, healthier home
Staying healthy is important to you and your entire family. Follow these easy, low-cost steps to help stop many infectious diseases before they happen!
1. Clean your hands often
Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses. Cleaning your hands gets rid of germs you pick up from other people, surfaces you touch, or animals you come in contact with.
To wash your hands properly, lather for 20 seconds with soap and rinse well, or use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol and rub for 15-30 seconds.
Oxford County Public Health: Hand Hygiene
Health Canada: The benefits of hand washing
2. Stay home when sick
If you’re sick, prevent the spread of illness to others. If you work in health care, child care or in food service, it is especially important to stay away from work until you feel better or, if you’ve had vomiting or diarrhea, until 48 hours after your symptoms stop.
At work, remember to cover your cough. Co-workers should never share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items.
3. Clean and disinfect surfaces often
Regular cleaning and disinfection removes or reduces many disease-carrying germs. Remember, disinfecting is different from cleaning: cleaning removes dirt and soil, while disinfecting destroys harmful bacteria and
prevents them from growing. While surfaces may look clean, infectious germs may be lurking. In some cases, germs can live on surfaces for hours or even days.
Disinfect areas where there can be large numbers of dangerous germs and where there is a possibility that these germs could spread to others, for instance, in the kitchen (where bacteria from raw food can live on counters and sinks) and in the bathroom. It is especially important to clean and disinfect in the bathroom if someone in the house had a stomach illness, a cold or the flu.
Disinfectants are government-registered by Health Canada, have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN), and contain ingredients that destroy bacteria and other germs. Check the product label to make sure it says “disinfectant” and follow the instructions on the label.
4. Handle and prepare food safely
When it comes to preventing foodborne illness, there are four simple steps to food safety that you can practice every day. These steps are easy and will help protect you and others.
- CLEAN: Clean hands and surfaces often
- SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another
- COOK: Cook foods to proper temperatures
- CHILL: Refrigerate foods promptly
Fight bac! Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education
Health Inspect Oxford: Food safety chart
5. Get immunized
Getting immunized is easy and government-funded in Ontario. Most importantly, it saves lives. As you grow, you do not outgrow your need for immunization. Make sure you and your children get the shots suggested by your doctor or health care provided at the proper time.
Get your flu shot. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall. Health care workers who take care of you and your loved ones should be immunized against the flu.
Oxford County Public Health provides free immunization services to all residents of Oxford County in our offices at 410 Buller Street in Woodstock and other locations across the County.
Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care: Immunization information
6. Use antibiotics appropriately
Antibiotics are powerful drugs used to treat certain bacterial infections. They should be taken exactly as prescribed by your health care provider.
Antibiotics don’t work against viruses such as colds or the flu. That means children do not need antibiotics every time they are sick.
If you do get sick, antibiotics may not always help. If used inappropriately, they can make bacteria resistant to treatment, making illnesses harder to get rid of the infection.
When in doubt, check with your health care provider, and always follow label instructions carefully.
Public Health Agency of Canada: Antimicrobial Resistance
7. Avoid contact with wild animals and insects
- Wild animals and insects can carry diseases that are harmful to you and your pets, but there are simple precautions you can take.
- Keep your house free of wild animals by not leaving any food around and keeping garbage cans sealed.
- Clear brush, grass, and debris from around the house foundations to get rid of possible nesting sites for mice and rodents.
- Eliminate any standing water on your property to avoid mosquito breeding (flower pots, buckets, lawn ornaments, etc.).
- Seal any entrance holes you discover on the inside or outside of your home.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET to prevent ticks and mosquito bites. Do a routine “tick check” after spending time outdoors.
- Wear light-coloured clothing that covers the skin.
- Do not approach stray dogs and cats
Oxford County Public Health: Environmental Health
8. Be careful with pets
Pets can pass harmful germs and parasites on to people through contact. Babies and children under 5 are more likely to get diseases from animals: always supervise their activities around pets for their health and safety.
- Pregnant women should NOT clean litter boxes to avoid toxoplasmosis.
- Dogs and cats MUST be immunized for rabies. It is the law in Ontario.
- Don’t allow children to play where animals go to the bathroom. Keep your child’s sandbox covered when not in use.
- Be careful when visiting farms, petting zoos and fairs. Careful hand washing should follow these visits.
- Children can become infected with salmonella after handling turtles and other reptiles. Make sure they wash their hands immediately after contact with all reptiles.
|Download the handout: Safer, Healthier, Home (October 2013)