Did you wash your hands?

Did you wash your hands?

With cold and flu season comes a new survey of 12,000 people in 12 countries that tells a story about personal hygiene. How do Canadians stack up? We rank fourth.

The sounds are in the air: sneezing, sniffling, hacking, and wheezing signal the cold and flu season. Sadly, it’s not just the sounds that are in the air. The germs and viruses are getting around as well. Though we all know that hand washing is an important preventive measure against seasonal bugs, you’d be surprised at how many of us aren’t being careful enough to stop the spread.

In a huge international survey reported recently, 12,000 people in 12 countries around the world answered questions about their hygiene habits. Overall, 54 percent of people surveyed reported washing hands with soap five or more times a day.

Some of the other survey findings

  • Canada had the fourth highest rate of good personal hygiene. Brazil and Germany ranked the highest, and China, Malaysia, and South Africa the lowest.
  • Canada reported the second highest household hygiene levels. UK and Australia tied for the highest rank, and China, Malaysia, and Middle East ranked the lowest.
  • Among Canadians, women were more hygienic than men. Women were found to be two times more likely than men to wash their hands regularly, and two-and-a-half times more likely to practice good household hygiene.
  • The odds of having good personal and household hygiene increased with age and income.
  • Hygiene habits vary by profession with homemakers (64.5 percent) reporting the highest level of personal hygiene and students (44.5 percent) reporting the worst.

Along with hand washing, avoiding colds and flu germs involves some common sense: be wary of bacterial hot spots such as door handles, keyboards, telephones, wall switches; keep your immune system topped up; and wash your hands with soap and water—frequently.

And if you’re wondering if the person sitting next to you is a potential contagion carrier—and is one of those almost 50 percent who doesn’t wash their hands at least five times a day—you might want to hope she’s an older, well-heeled homemaker.

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