Wash Your Digits

Right before this most recent Valentine’s Day, one of my children needed blood work so we went to a medical lab.  On the way to the phlebotomist’s bench, we chuckled at a wall with clever three dimensional artwork designed to remind people to wash their hands.

HandWashingII-022020-20200215

Germs Are Like A Box Of Chocolates: You Never Know What You Are Going To Get.

One poster said, “The 10 Most Common Ways of Spreading Disease Are The 10 Fingers : Hand Hygiene is the Single Most Effective Way To Prevent Infection.”

Another one said, “Did You Wash Your Hands? You spread germs if you don’t!”

A menacingly cute Box of Chocolates warned passersby not to catch the following lovebugs:

Shigella: I cause Diarrhea.

E-Coli: (caused by bacteria) I can be spread by not washing your hands after using the toilet.

Streptococci: I’m delighted to give you a sore throat.

Haemophilus: I cause pink-eye (highly contagious).

Pseudomonas: I can infect wounds.

Beneath the chocolate box was a hand-washing infographic that depicted the steps for hand hygiene. Worth repeating:

Step 1: Wet hands

Step 2: Apply soap

Step 3: Wash for 20 seconds

Step 4: Rinse

Step 5: Dry

Step 6: Turn off water with paper towel.

Only one month after this lab visit, everyone across the globe would be obsessing about hand-sanitizer, and hand washing, and have hand-washing instructions memorized and put to use dozens of times a day.  All because of the novel corona virus. If one good can come from this trying time, it’s that persons will no longer be cavalier with their personal hygiene because of the ease of spreading diseases.

graphic depicting American's Hand Hygiene habits

Before Covid19,  American’s Hand Hygiene Habits needed improvement.

Even without the novel corona virus at work to scare us into sanitary practices, we had influenza and the common cold to think about. There was a poster that depicted soap bubbles floating above a pair of hands being washed. It said, “On average, you come in contact with 300 surfaces every 30 minute, exposing you to 840,000 germs.”

Yes, one is supposed to wash her hands after sneezing, coughing or blowing her nose. One is not supposed to leave a public restroom without washing his hands, whether or not he is an employee returning to work.

SCA, the global hygiene company that put together the graphic above, ran a survey of 1000 US Adults in 2018. It uncovered that consumers grossly exaggerated their personal hand hygiene habits. More than half did not wash their hands after riding public transportation, after using shared exercise equipment, or handling money.  Nearly 60% claimed to witness others leaving a public restroom without washing their hands.

The thought of this makes me nauseous. We don’t have a choice about taking effective precautions for better health. I hope that you have sincerely changed your hand hygiene by now, and are not grossly exaggerating how frequently you are washing your hands.

You gotta wash your damn hands.

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