And now we come to that time of year where students and teachers dive headlong into those overflowing human petri dishes we call “schools.”
My kids have brought home some real winners through the years. Colds, flus, and stomach bugs, of course. But then there’s the phalanx of conjunctivitis, strep throat, inexplicable fevers, Hand-Foot-Mouth and Fifth Disease. (Yes, that’s what it’s called. I’m not kidding. Look it up.) Nothing deadly, but certainly unpleasant.
To rehash some old news here, let me remind you that frequent handwashing with regular soap and water is the single best defense against the spread of germs. The mundane act of handwashing has been making headlines lately because the FDA just banned the ubiquitous ingredient Triclosan in antibacterial soaps. (Soap is all you need anyway.) Which takes us back to my point:
Frequent handwashing with regular soap and water is the single best defense against the spread of germs.
So, when you find your precious littles are catching every passing bug (“But Mommy, I thought you wanted us to share!”) – and before you dose them with latest miracle vitamin – check out how often and how well they are washing their hands.
Four Handwashing Fumbles
Otherwise known as the no-soap wash. I say “wash” in the loosest sense of the word because this is, in fact, a rinse. Water alone does not grab germs, and it cannot penetrate grease. The only effect it might possibly have is to knock the dirt off by force.
The Flash Wash
This is the “blink and you might miss it” wash where soap touches the hands for the briefest of moments before getting rinsed off. Soap needs a few moments to do its job – grabbing dirt, grime, and germs – and it must touch all parts of the hand to do so.
The Finger Free
This one is a toddler specialty, where soap gets rubbed around the palms and maybe the backs of the hands, but not the all-important fingers. Our fingertips touch surfaces, friends, food and our own mouths, noses, and eyes the most. Handwashing must include a thorough scrub of the fingers, fingertips, and under the fingernails. According to the FDA , “The fingernails and surrounding areas are often the most contaminated parts of the hand.
The Why Bother
Even if you wash your hands well, but then touch the faucet, the paper towel lever, the dryer button, the lightswitch, or the door handle, you might as well have licked your hands clean. Instead, do all this with the back of your hand, your less dominant hand, your least used fingers, your elbow, or with a paper towel in between. Be creative.
In situations with cloth towels, the towel is only as clean as everyone else who has used it. Is it trustworthy?
Here’s a snazzy summary put together by Rachel, one of our awesome graphic designers:
Review this with yourself, with your live-withs, your kids, your friends, your friends’ kids, and your kids’ friends.
This may sound like a hassle, but think of all the time, money, and peace of mind you’ll preserve in not missing work, visiting the doctor, caring for the sick, getting sick yourself, cleaning the house extra, completing missed classwork and missed work work.
I can already hear the cherubic voices, “But that’s NO FUN!!” Yeah, well, being sick is even less fun.