This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week. This special week (always the first full week in December) focuses on the value of the simple but important act of washing your hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands." Here are some interesting statistics for you about handwashing:
- 2/3 of adults in the US wash hands after using the bathroom.
- 1 in 4 adults don’t wash hands after changing diapers.
- Less than 1/2 of Americans wash hands after cleaning up after pets.
- 1 in 3 wash hands after sneezing/coughing.
- Less than 1 in 5 wash hands after touching money.
- 1 in 3 E.coli occurrences is caused from not washing hands before handling food.
Here is a simple activity that will help to explain the importance of washing your hands.
Here’s What You Need
Note: You can buy Glo Germ at www.glogerm.com.Here’s What You Do
Place a few drops of the Glo Germ on your palm rub your hands together. Make sure you rub the liquid all over your hands (e.g. the back of your hands, around fingernails, etc.). Turn off all of the lights and shine the Ultra Violet lamp on your hands. They should be glowing in the UV light. The Glo Germ simulates germs on your hands. Now, it is time to get rid of all of those germs with a good old fashion hand washing!
If you want to clean your hands, soap and water is the best thing to use. Follow these steps:
- Get a paper towel and set it next to the faucet. You will need it in a little while.
- Turn on the water. Check to make sure it isn’t too hot.
- Wet your hands, grab the soap, and start scrubbing and making suds.
- Scrub for the length of time that it takes to sing your ABC's
- Rinse hands.
- Grab the paper towel and use it to turn off the faucet (do not touch faucet with clean hands).
Here’s What You Do (if you don’t have Glo Germ)
Use a spray bottle filled with clean water. Spray water on your hands. This water represents the germs that come out of your mouths when you cough or sneeze. Now, touch an object (e.g. your shirt, a table, the doorknob) or person. What happened to the object or person you touched? Is the object or person damp? What happened? What would happen if a friend or family member touched the object or person in the same place that you touched? Germs are spread in the same way that the water was spread from you to the object or person. The best way to stop germs from spreading is to keep your hands clean with warm water and soap!
Things to Remember:
- Germs are everywhere.
- Germs are so small that you can’t see them.
- Germs can make you sick.
- You can get rid of germs by washing your hands.
- When to Wash Your Hands: after using the toilet, before eating or touching food, after playing with animals.
Soap is a surfactant. Basically, it makes the water wetter. If you were to look very closely at a soap molecule, you would see something that looks like a big head with a long tail. The head is hydrophilic or water loving. This means that it really loves to link up with water molecules. The tail of the water molecule is hydrophobic or water fearing. Instead of attaching to water, the tail would rather link up with oils and grease. Generally, oil and water don't really mix with each other. By linking to the oil and grease as well as the water, soap helps water to wash away the oil, grease, dirt, and germs on our skin. As the water carries away the dirt, it also kills and carries away the germs that can make you sick.
Wondershop Fast Fact: Germs, Germs, Germs
- Until the 1860’s, people didn’t know about germs. They also didn’t know that cleaning cuts and keeping them covered was a good way to prevent infections. Doctors didn’t even wash their hands before operating. Ignaz Semmelweis figured out that washing hands prevented sickness in the 1840’s, but didn’t have a way to explain why. Joseph Lister is recognized by many to be the first surgeon to clean instruments and his hands with antiseptic chemicals that kill germs. However, there is evidence that other cultures may have understood the value of antiseptics prior to Lister's discovery. In 1879, for example, one British traveler, R.W. Felkin, witnessed cesarean section performed by Ugandans. The healer used banana wine to semi-intoxicate the woman and to cleanse his hands and her abdomen prior to surgery.
- Medical workers today wear gloves to protect themselves from germs. Medical workers also wear masks over their nose and mouth so they don’t breathe germs on their patients.