Three Cheers for… Handwashing!

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

I wash my hands properly.

Yes, that is what I wrote, bear with me.

I have always been a diligent hand-washer, not overdoing it, mind you, but always consistently. I was raised by a contentious nurse. In the last couple of years though, I have become more aware of the importance of hand-washing technique (if you will), and in turn, horrified at how little other people do it (and that’s only when I catch them!).

We are supposed to wash our hands for 30 seconds. It doesn’t seem that long, but counting it out can feel that way. I would say this is the biggest change for me, that I started to count, to be consistent in frequency, time spent, and in technique – perfecting my style, as it were. We are to wash for 30 seconds, use soap and warm/hot water and while doing so, scrub our nails, wash between the fingers, and on the back of the hands as well. All these steps make 30 seconds go by quicker, trust me. I have taken to singing the (English) alphabet song, which, if done slowly, will take you approximately 30 seconds. Just think, children could learn their alphabet at the same time as hand washing methods!

And all this technique is for a reason – to keep from spreading germs, illness and disease, and honestly, being courteous to our fellow humans. It’s extremely unlikely that sitting on a public toilet will make you sick with anything at all, and yet, many women will flush it with their foot (making the handle all the more dirty), put toilet paper down, and take all these steps, but then come out and not take care to wash properly. I find it irritating and disgusting (if women would stop crouching over toilets, they wouldn’t be covered with pee, which I then actually DO have to use TP to make a barrier). While in the change rooms at the gym, I will often – far too often – see women exit a stall and then either not wash their hands at all, or act like water is magic, and one touch will zap all the germs – one quick hand to water and they’re off! Water is magic for many reasons, but this isn’t one of them, again, there’s the matter of the soap (there to actually carry away the bacteria), warm/hot water and technique.

I am so close to being that woman who is going to start calling women on it in the change rooms…but I’m concerned at the backlash that may ensue. I did catch my co-worker being lackadaisical about it, and because we are on good enough terms, I educated her on the reasons, and (gently) chastized her enough to at least make her think about it.

I always use the example of the Norovirus, or what we erroneously call the 24 hour flu (it’s not a flu) or food poisoning (which it resembles). This virus is highly contagious and is spread (once it’s ingested through contaminated food/drink) through contact after someone has decidedly not washed their hands, or washed properly. Onto doorknobs etc. and before you know it, it’s spread through quite a few people. All because of hand washing. Perhaps it’s not a fatal example, but it’s an awful experience (I’ve had it), and unnecessary.

So I wash my hands, well. Because I care.

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