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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On washing my hands after using the restroom...

Have you ever wondered "what is the point of washing your hands after using the washroom"? For many of us, the answer is no... between 70% and 80% of us don't question it. Studies have shown that since the threat of the H1N1 virus, the washing of hands following urination or defecation by humans has gone up, from 70% to 80%, approximately (studies from 1997 and 2009 were consulted). There are actually people who do 'undercover' studies of these habits... We know that if we don't wash, we could spread various bacteria and virus from the toilet area to ourselves; or to others from our hands to food, other hands, our eyes and so on...

But what about the 20% to 30% who don't wash their hands? Certainly they have direct risk to themselves and to their acquaintances... spouse, child, friend and so on. And have we given any thought to when these people leave the public washroom where they didn't wash their hands... but used those same filthy hands to open the door to the washroom. Yes, that is the same door that everyone else will put their hands on... clean or otherwise... to escape the washroom. Yuck... makes me sick thinking about it. We wash our hands, only to contaminate them by opening the door to the washroom on the way out!

So, to fool the perpetrators of such virulent habits, there are some of us who circumvent the potential for contamination by using the towel we use to dry our hands, as a protective cloth between the door handle and our clean hands, when we open the door... this in facilities which supply towels. The tell-tale of this is when you sometimes see a pile of paper towels on the floor near the door to a washroom. It happens often enough that you may see some facilities who place the trash containers near to the door where it swings out.

But then there are the McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Burger King, and thousands of other restaurants and gas stations, who don't have towels in the washrooms... they just have 'blowers'. These companies did cost studies where they realized that by not putting towels in the washrooms, they saved money... money for towels; money to clean up the paper on the floors; money to snake the toilets when they get plugged; and so on. In these establishments, you can't escape with out getting contaminated... I hate these places, and try to avoid eating at restaurants where I know the door knobs likely have the virus and bacteria from 20% to 30% of the patrons on the door handles! Hmmmm, I wonder what would happen if more people decided on where they eat based on whether they can wash their hands before eating, or after going #1 or #2 ... and return to their food with clean hands... not touching the door handles...

And when I can't avoid it... when I enter a bathroom with no towels, and those incessant wind machines... I have a new tactic! I go back to my table, or in the case of McDonalds, to the dispensers, and grab a handful of napkins... I go into the bathroom, do my thing, and use the napkins to dry my hands, then to open the door... and then I throw the napkins back into the bathroom in order to contain any virus or bacteria that I may have wiped off the door handle, in the bathroom.

I recommend such Gorilla Tactics at every restaurant, every hospital, and every gas station restaurant which uses the wind machines, and not the towels. If these facilities want to save money on towels, start building washrooms with no doors like in airports, or doors that open out, so you can open them with your foot...

Pass this on, but not the contamination in your next pit stop... think about the millions and millions served at these restaurants... for every million served, there are between 200,000 and 300,000 patrons who don't wash their hands. If only 10% of those end up contaminating the next person through the door, that would be 20 to 30 Thousand people for every million served... that may catch a cold; or worse a flu; or a sty; or MRSA; some of them cold die. And we know that in some cases, there are billions served!




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Blueknowser

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Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!