Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hands Off!!

Remember this episode of Seinfeld where Jerry sees Poppie, the pizza maker leave the stall and return to the kitchen without washing his hands? With age, I have become much more 'empfindlich' as mom would have said.  Thus, I'm now the queen of hand sanitizer.

I once heard that a very low percentage of people actually wash their hands in public restrooms, especially if they perceive that nobody is watching. To that I say, "Ewwwww".

I used to insist that my small charges scrub up after using the bathroom. That was no mean feat considering it required watching them trek from a coat room where the toilet was, to a sink at the opposite end of the classroom. Although I probably didn't catch them all, I saw most as they exited the facility. My eye corners came in very handy back in those days. Even when I was in the midst of reading a story, a child would return from doing his/her business, eager to sit down. They'd see my raised brow and would follow my pointed finger to the sink as I continued reading aloud the adventures of almost any talking animal or dancing vegetable. I would then jokingly announce to other adults in the room, "You never know. They might be cooking our burgers at the retirement home one day."

Thinking back a number of years, I recall hearing stories of tycoon Howard Hughes and his germaphobia. He actually lay around naked in hotel room beds with kleenex boxes on his feet to keep them from touching anything. Clearly it was fortunate for him that in his day, there were no hotel room grunge expos├ęs as there have been in more recent times. Although Hughes was actually diagnosed with a mental illness, I am beginning to understand how someone can become obsessed with germs.

The Centre for Disease Control gives some interesting facts. Not only do they state that a large percentage of foodborne diseases are spread by contaminated hands, they further state that pinworms, ear infections, trachoma, respiratory infections, and many other illnesses can be traced to improper hygiene. In fact, two million children a year are said to die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, caused by infections which could be prevented.

Faucets, doorknobs, phones, remote controls, tables, shopping carts, almost all surfaces contain some degree of e-coli bacteria. Hence, the need to wash hands after touching almost anything. I did a bit more research and also discovered that many who wash their hands don't do it properly, long enough, or with sufficient soap. Water alone is not enough. It's even suggested you touch sink handles and door knobs with a paper towel when out in public. Good idea. I usually do that already. Then I go find the public sanitizer container or use my own purse sized dispenser to further kill of bacteria from aforementioned places. Thankfully, the public sanitizers are becoming more commonplace.

So, as I always said to the small children, "Sing Happy Birthday to yourself while you wash your hands." You are finished when the song is done. I on the other hand prefer to hum any Bon Jovi tune.

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