Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spreading Germs and Washing Hands

I was sickened when I saw the statistics on public hand washing. It was very disturbing. Disturbing enough that I have started a Hand Washing Campaign with my kids, just to make sure that it is ingrained into their heads.

I have taught them to wash with soap and water for as long as it takes to sing the ABC's, twice. Then to turn off the bathroom faucets using a paper towel, so as not to pick up the germs again and to open all public restroom doors using the paper towel they dried their hands with, so as not to pick up someone else's germs that left the restroom without washing.

I am working with them on washing their hands after they touch their face, the cat or dog, the garbage can, the floor or the bottoms of their shoes. And always before eating (you should see my house at dinner time. Everyone sitting down at the table, heads bowed for the prayer, Mommy asks, who has washed their hands and the table clears as everyone races to the bathroom to wash up. Then a steady procession of small children returning with moist, pink little hands, held out in front of them positioned for mommy to smell them. Proof that they indeed used soap.), before cooking, before putting away the dishes and after playing outside. They are getting better and better.

However, I wasn't sure that they understood the concept that there are germs all around them. They get on their hands and they spread them by touching things. I was really excited when my friend T told me about a project that she had seen where you wet a child's hands and sprinkle them with glitter. Then everything they touch gets glitter on it. After awhile you can take your child back and show them where they have been, what they have touched and what "has germs" on it from their hands. I can't wait to try it out with my little ones.

For your knowlegde pleasure, here is the study I found about hand washing in public restrooms from the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Hand Washing Statistics: People Don’t Wash Hands

Some statistics illustrating that people don't wash their hands. Excerpt from the 2006 Minnesota Hand washing Tool Kit.

  • American Society of Microbiology studies showed:
    • 97% of females and 92% of males say they wash
      • of these only 75% females and 58% males washed
    • 50% of middle and high school students say they wash
      • of these 33% of females and only 8% of males used soap while washing hands
  • Minnesota Department of Health led three observational studies:
    • 2003 Back to 50’s Car Show Event—64% females washed and 30% males
    • 2003 State Fair—65% females washed and 39% males
    • 2004 State Fair—75% females washed and 51% males

(Source: 2006 Minnesota Handwashing Tool Kit)

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