Person washing his hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have a guest post coming next week about go-bags. I’m hoping the buddy who is a SWAT expert who consults for my crime novels will favor us with post about getting zombie-ready, too. Before we get too much deeper into this blog, though, I have to write this post. It is at once a hopeful idea and a deflating one. Here’s the key thing you need to know to prevent the spread of disease:
WASH YOUR HANDS!
Every day we touch our faces, our mouths and eyes hundreds of times. We do it after touching doorknobs and shaking hands and borrowing a pen. The vectors of disease are everywhere, waiting for us to make this mistake. It’s such an easy fix, yet lots of people fail to do it. Sometimes I think the human race is too dumb to live and we’ve just been lucky so far. Here’s why…
Use hot water and soap (and not anti-bacterial lotions if you can help it.) After you wash your hands, the best preference is to shut off the tap with your elbow or, after you dry your hands with a paper towel, turn off the tap with the same paper towel. Don’t grab the bathroom door handle with the hand you just washed and then go share popcorn with your date. Use the paper towel again, a sleeve, a glove or wait for somebody else to open the door.
I don’t have OCD. I just know how much fecal matter is on handles, ATM keys and your money. The germs on money is akin to used toilet paper. If a food handler tries to serve your food with the same dirty hands they used to take your money, do not eat it and tell the manager to retrain his or her staff.
Why does this information bring me up and down at the same time?
Because it’s the same advice given to revolutionary war soldiers to help prevent the spread of disease. Washing your hands was initially a radical idea and the doctor who first proposed the practice to decrease the incidence of infant mortality in his hospital was persecuted for it (and eventually ended up in a madhouse.)
During the SARS crisis in Toronto a few years ago (in which 44 people died), hand washing was the prime directive. That’s depressing because that was the best advice they had at the time and still is. After the invention of the microscope and vaccines and amazing medical technology, the best we can do is still ordinary hygiene you should be doing anyway. And many people don’t. We’d call them selfish pigs, though that’s an insult to pigs.
I waited a long time for a surgeon to show up to give me some stitches. He’d just driven in to the office from home. Before he touched me, I asked that he wash his hands. Yes, he was going to use an anti-bacterial and wear gloves etc.,…, but first I had to ask him to do the basics. He looked mildly irritated, but he complied, so fine. No infection for me.
I knew another health care practitioner who went to the bathroom but felt he was too busy and important to wash his hands before going off to see patients. I witnessed this once personally. Even after getting berated for his negligence and disrespect, I’m sure he probably gets away with it when no one else is around to call him on it.
Mount your defences
To protect you and your family, get in the habit if you aren’t already. Wipe down germy surfaces (kitchen counters, doorknobs, cutting boards) with hot, soapy water, vinegar and water or organic cleaning products so food-bourne bacteria doesn’t make you sick. Wash your hands for your benefit and for the health of others.
Until better medicine comes along, basic hygiene is still the first defence against the coming plague.