Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bring on the bathroom horns


I have kids.  I work with kids.  And keeping those factors in mind, there is a very good chance that at any given moment, some sort of dried up food or bodily fluid is going to present on their hands.  These mystery substances are the little beauties that carry germs that make us sick and when you run as fast as I do, we just don’t have time for that sort of stuff.
It then follows that we are ardent hand washers.  Like, big time.
Come home from somewhere?  Wash your hands.  Eating?  Wash your hands.  Bathroom?  In a public place?  Wash your hands and don’t touch the doorknob on the way out.  
Call me a germaphobe, but some things are just good, solid personal hygiene.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  
One recent morning I was listening to the morning news and they announced a study done by Michigan State that reported that 95% of people don’t correctly wash their hands.  95%.  That’s a lot of dried up yuck on doorknobs.
“That’s ludicrous,” I said outloud, as I lathered up my fingers.
But there I was, later that day in the library bathroom.  The other stall was occupied and she finished up before me.  I listened as the person flushed, open the stall door, and completely bypassed the sink and walked right out the door, probably to thumb through the book I would eventually check out.  She didn’t wash her hands!  Maybe there was merit to this study after all.
So I looked it up and found that their results are pretty filthy.  The study followed 3,749 people.  Of those people, over 10% of them (including my library friend) didn’t wash their hands at all.  Over 22% simply wet their hands without using soap, and the remaining 67% actually took the time to apply soap, lather, and rinse their germs down the drain instead of sharing them with the rest of the world.
The study then goes on to report the correct method for washing your hands according to the CDC.  They recommend using soap and rubbing your bubbly hands thoroughly for 15 to 20 seconds, approximately the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” through two times.  The CDC stands firm in its statement that proper hand washing is the best way to fight spreading illness and to keep you healthy.   The study done at Michigan State sadly reports that given these standards, only a measly 5% of people actually took the time to correctly wash their hands by using soap for 15 seconds and drying them appropriately.  That means that only one out of every twenty people gets the yuck off.
As a germophobe who swears that touching an unwiped shopping cart gives certain pink eye or stomach virus, this is downright disgusting.  I certainly am not expecting every person in the world to belt out “Happy Birthday” at the bathroom sink, but I would really entertain the idea of a bit of peer pressure at the sink.  We do it all the time when we’re driving—a simple honk of the horn to let our fellow drivers know that something they are doing isn’t quite right and isn’t quite safe.  Perhaps they could be located next to the towel racks or electronic blowers, and if someone tries to skimp on the soap or, my word, just walk out without even a drop of water, we could just honk at them.  Maybe even yell out “didn’t wash hands!  Didn’t wash hands!” to evoke humiliation and certain scrubbing.
Of course, before touching the horn, please take the time to disinfect yourself correctly, like the other 5% of the population.  Chances are we’re the only ones who will use the horn and we prefer germ free honking devices.

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