Everybody’s doing it...we hope. But are they doing it right? When it comes to hand washing, studies say ‘no’, which is why experts from Golisano Children’s Hospital are taking their hygiene message to school.
“Yes it’s really important. We’re very proactive about hand washing, health in general,” says Julie Briggs, child advocate with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Researchers find most people don’t wash long enough to kill germs, don’t use soap or don’t wash at all.
If they only saw this: a rubber ball coated with glow lotion is passed from student to student. It mimics the spread of germs. When the kids put their hands under a UV lamp- the phony germs light up. The result is illuminating.
“They’re amazed by that. They don’t see that on an everyday basis. They really get grossed out like ‘oh is that really what’s on my hands every single day’ I think that really gets them thinking,” says Briggs.
The CDC offers handy tips for washing. It takes 15-20 seconds of vigorous washing with soap and water to kill germs. That’s how long it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Most people, on average, lather and rinse in under six seconds.
The hand washing how-to is never more timely than during flu season.
“It’s quite quick to spread person-to-person and really move throughout a community in a brief period of time. Whenever you cough or sneeze, little bits of the virus go out get on to somebody else’s hand or shirt or clothes that they then touch to their face and can catch it quite easily,” says Dr. Christy Cavanagh, a family medicine physician with Lee Memorial Health System.
If everyone could see it the way a first-grader does, maybe we’d all be a lot healthier.
“When kids learn in a fun way they’re more likely to remember it after we leave,” says Briggs.