Look around. You’re surrounded. Even if you’re sitting in a room all by yourself, you’re still surrounded but it’s not by people or pets. It is by microscopic organisms that are floating in and out of your body at an alarming rate. Most of the bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that come into our systems are beat back by out body’s own might immune system. But when that immune system is compromised, then those parasites can take hold and generate illnesses that run the spectrum from a minor cold to a major flu or worse.

Any opening in your body is susceptible to an infection. Sometimes those infections can be created by bugs or other objects causing a break in the skin. This is why it is important to block the pathogens from coming into our systems. Head them off, if you will. Here’s how to get it done:

Washing Your Hands

This point can’t be emphasized enough. You should never leave the bathroom or kitchen without washing your hands. Actually, you shouldn’t start any work it the kitchen without washing first but don’t just stop with “general” washing. Think targeting. If you sneeze, blow your nose or cover your mouth with your hands when you cough, then you should wash your hands immediately afterwards. And don’t just do a quick rinse under the water. Activate soap around the front, back, in between the fingers and up to the wrists.

Cover a Cough

If you need to cough or sneeze, then aim into your elbow. The less contact germs come with your hands the better.

Wash All Cuts

It seems standard that if we cut ourselves, we’re going to wash that cut. That works easy for a cut on the hand but not so easy for the feet or legs. Any cut should be washed and sprayed with an antibacterial lotion and then covered up regardless of where it is located. Once the cut begins to heal, don’t pick it at. Let it run its course. The same can be said for any blemishes or pimples: No squeezing or popping.

No Sharing

The hope is that we get to surround ourselves with wonderful people. If we’re lucky, then we even get to share our lives with those people in our homes. That doesn’t mean we should be sharing dishes, cups or utensils with them. Once someone has “committed” to using one of those items, then it becomes all theirs. Even if they’re not sick, they could still be a carrier of germs that can knock you right out.

Rinse Everything

Fresh fruit and veggies should be a part of our diets but it needs to be clean fruit and veggies. Rinse them off before consuming. The same can be said for any meat, poultry or fish you’re preparing to cook. And the moment those items go into the pan or pot, you want to wash your hands with soap. Once cooked, you want to keep those foods away from raw foods to avoid cross contamination. As for defrosting: That should only happen in the fridge or microwave never on the counter.

Don’t give those germs a fighting chance.