The arrival of autumn brings a change in the seasons, and it signals the coming cold and flu season, so this is a great time to review how to wash your hands properly. Medical experts remind us that along with vaccinations, washing your hands frequently and properly can help prevent these illnesses.

This simple hygienic habit is so important that the third week of September is designated as International Clean Hands Week.

Either at home or out and about, people encounter germs on a constant basis. You can pick up germs from touching various contaminated surfaces, then unknowingly touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. Keeping your hands clean greatly reduces that risk, and the risk of spreading germs to others.

Proper hand washing takes more than just a quick pass under the faucet. Hands should be lathered with soap, making sure to scrub well between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue the process for 20 seconds, about the time it takes to hum the song, “Happy Birthday to You” twice.