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Maybe the custom of shaking hands should be modified

By Richard Shaw

Not feeling that well one day, I hung around a restroom door in a store in Salt Lake, wondering if I ever could leave. Something I ate or some bug caused it, I didn’t know which. But there I was.
Each time someone went in the little one seater I stood away so as not to be too embarrassing to either of us. I mean for me guys who hang around restroom doors might be suspect of more than just having an unset stomach.
As I stood there and people came and went (no pun intended) the sound of the the paper towel dispenser echoed from the place of relief. And while over the years I had observed a number of people who were in a restroom with me not washing their hands before they walked out, the numbers not utilizing the dispenser in that rest room really came to roost in my mind that morning.
I was there for about 10 minutes and 13 people came and went. It was a unisex bathroom so I saw people from both sexes. Out of that 13 I only heard the paper towel dispenser throw out its light tan paper to dry hands on five times. That means unless some of them were washing their hands and were not drying them, eight people wandered around that store spreading germs everywhere they went.

This is gross

Call me finicky, but how can anything be more gross? I don’t care what you do, what kind of business you are in or maybe that you think that you could not be a carrier of germs, if you don’t wash your hands after being in a restroom you are endangering others. It’s tantamount to if you were driving drunk or swinging a ball bat indiscriminately in a crowd.
Why do you think that anyplace that serves food has a sign in their restrooms that employees have to wash their hands? In fact I have seen those signs in a lot of places that don’t serve food.
From the time I was a small boy my mother instilled in me how important it was for me to wash my hands, not only for my own good, but for others. When I see people walk in a restroom I am in, do their business and then walk out without washing up and I have to check to see if maybe I am caught in a some kind of dark ages time warp, you know when everyone ate with their hands out of the same bowl and no one even knew germs existed. However, never have found that to be true.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps any of us can take to avoid getting sick ourselves, as well as spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.
Yet here we are, with many, many people not washing hands when everything to do so is right there at, well, their fingertips.

10 percent don’t wash at all

A recent study by Michigan State University shows that of almost 4,000 people observed in a field test only 5 percent washed their hands effectively and over 10 percent didn’t wash them at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people wash for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and water in order to kill infection-causing germs.
The study too showed, not surprisingly to me, that men were not near as sanitary as women were when it came to washing hands. Men only used soap when they did wash half the time and women used it 78 percent of the time.
There is no way to tell how much not performing this action affects the public’s health, but as more and more people inhabit this world, the problem of hand washing will only get worse. Public health cannot depend on vaccines or drugs to solve these kinds of problems; they need the cooperation of the public to make a big dent in the smearing of bacteria all over the place.
Some think that people are too germaphobic, but when you observe this it is hard not to be. Here are some points to think about.
•Automatic faucets and hand less soap dispensers are a good thing. That means you don’t have to touch them. It seems it does little good to wash your hands when afterward you have to turn off a faucet.
•What about that little crank on non-automated paper or cloth towel dispensers? Think that might be covered in germs too?
•When you have washed your hands and you turn around to go out of the restroom do you grab another paper towel to open the door with? You should, because once again contact points are the place where you pick up germs. Door knobs and handles are the worst.
•When there is no soap in a restroom what do you do? And what about no way to dry hands? They both are dilemmas to those of us that believe in sanitation.
Personally I often judge restaurants by the cleanliness of their restrooms. I am not talking about taking them down a notch for daily dirt, things like muddy footprints on the floor, paper towels or other things strewn about, etc. That kind of thing can happen in five minutes or less. I am talking about dirty, long term dirt that the establishment doesn’t seem to see when they have those facilities cleaned. If the restroom looks like that, I believe the kitchen follows. I know this from experience of many years in the facilities business, where I saw dirty kitchens team up with bad restrooms to make a place not a place I would want to eat.
If the establishment has one of those signs on the wall that say “if anything is out of order in the restroom to let management know,” let them know. They obviously are concerned about it. If it is a mess and they don’t have a sign, let them know too, maybe a little more adamantly. I always tell everyone from convenience store clerks to waiters when I see something wrong in a restroom in a place of business. None of us should grumble to others about this if we are not willing to tell those that run the place the same thing.
Some will think this column is silly, and maybe it is. But hand washing and doing it right is a big deal in our society. I have seen fathers in restrooms trying to teach their little kids that they should always wash their hands. Kudos to them. I have also seen fathers walk right out with their kids without even asking. They may not be bad parents, but that practice is bad parenting.

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