I beg to argue with the person who labels me as having obsessive compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD. Even before H1N1 and others were brought into the media spotlight, I saw the world as a germy place. My tireless efforts to keep my person, my home, my family as germ free as possible have made me the subject of ridicule by many. However, I believe that scientific research has proven my efforts, or quirks as some call them, are effective at preventing the flu and other germ transmission cases. Follow along with me:
Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly with plain soap and water including wrists, palms, back of hands, fingers and under your fingernails for at LEAST twenty seconds. Shut the faucet off with a paper towel, and dry your hands completely with a clean hand towel or paper towel. If a towel is not available, air dry your hands…do not wipe them on your clothing.
Ask any doctor on how to prevent the flu or other illness, they will tell you this is the best defense. Sounds easy, but how many times have you been in the bathroom stall, heard the toilet flush next to you, and then heard the door open and close five seconds later? Not even a half-hearted attempt at washing without soap before leaving the restroom was made. That same person will touch the same surfaces your freshly washed hands will. If that is not proof enough to assume that there are germs on every surface...that door knob, the computer keyboard, the vending machine, the tongs at the All You Can Eat Buffet, the container of open forks or straws in the cafeteria... just think how dirty that money is that you exchanged for that snack you are about to eat?
Simply stated keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose unless you have washed properly and assume all surfaces are contaminated. Keep an eye on your kids, and coach them at an early age to keep their hands away from their face. In many cases, simple habits such as chewing your nails, or one of my personal pet peeves – “licking-your-finger-to-turn-the-page”, can and will perpetuate the problem.
Step 2: Cough into the crook of your arm. That person next to you who is hacking up a lung? Well, if he is not covering, you might as well be kissing him. You are swapping bodily fluids right now by inhaling liquid particles. And the person that is coughing into their hand? Would you lick your hand after shaking hands with him? Then why wouldn't you wash before eating your lunch? Because even if you didn't shake, he just touched all the same surfaces you are about to touch before you eat... like that chair you are about to pull out and sit in while you munch. When you cough, do "the Dracula" and you'll keep others from getting sick even before you exhibit any symptoms.
Step 3: Stay home if you are sick. I know that you were most likely infectious before you showed any symptoms but at least you can keep some of those sick germs in your house and not on surfaces I have to share with you. Your immune system is already compromised. Why risk being in public and exposing yourself to other illnesses when you are still battling the current one?
Step 4: Get plenty of rest. A tired, run down body cannot fight off germs. Why do children bounce back so quickly after falling ill? Because they get lots of rest, that’s why. Nap time really should be added back into the day, I believe.
So you can now see that it is not OCD and there is reason to run for the hand sanitizer...nothing less than 62% ethyl alcohol and applied for 15 seconds or longer, of course. The world is a germy place! And you can imagine what I have to say about chips and dips at parties...let's just consider the phrase "double dipping" for a moment. Gross! The canapé tray is much safer if you have to ask. Better yet, save the calories for a sealed beer.
When should you wash your hands?
• Before eating or preparing food.
• After handling uncooked foods, especially raw meats, poultry, or fish.
• After you have used the washroom, or you have cleaned up an infant or child who has done their business.
• Before and after caring for someone ill.
• After any contact with blood or bodily fluids (e.g. saliva, nasal secretions, vomit).
• Before and after treating a cut or a wound.
• After touching or handling an animal, their leash, toys or waste.
• Any other high-use items or items subject to contamination such as a shopping cart, ATM, money, and trash receptacles.