Hand washing important for health

Published 3:48 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

By Staff
Last week my friend and colleague Amelia McGrew, the regional extension agent for Food Safety, Preservation and Preparation, visited me at the Escambia County Extension Office here in Brewton. While she was here she presented a food safety program to the Kids ‘N Kin program at Alabama State University/Southern Normal Campus. The following is a news column she wrote relating her experience there.
Did you wash your hands?
Washing our hands might be something we all learned at a very early age, but it's often neglected. We've all witnessed the scenario: A friend or relative uses the bathroom, walks out, doesn't wash their hands carefully and goes on to enjoy a meal. There are times when we may not experience any symptoms at all, and we conclude that just a little water and soap does the trick to remove the germs. On the other hand, we may continue with the same behavior as usual, but this time is different. We've enjoyed our meal and now we are sick. We are experiencing nausea, vomiting and maybe even diarrhea. We could possibly have a food borne illness, which could have been avoided by simple hand washing. According to the Department of Public Health and recent studies, hand washing is the single most effective thing we can do to prevent the spread of illness.
Germs are often transferred to others through household objects - door knobs, telephones, and faucet handles. But the biggest means of transportation for germs is your hands. Frequent hand washing gets rid of the illness-causing germs and helps to prevent the spread of some diseases - especially if a family member, friend or relative has a virus. Alabama Cooperative Extension believes that education is vital in reducing the spread of germs which may cause illness,
A program called &#8220House of Horrible Germs” was introduced to the youth at Rottschafer Day Care, parents and youth of the Kids ‘N Kin Program. This was made possible through a collaboration of Regional Extension Agents, Amelia McGrew, Carolyn Bivins, and Karen Steenwyk, Child Care Partner for Kids ‘N Kin.
The &#8220House of Horrible Germs is an interactive exhibit used with lesson plans designed to improve the effectiveness and frequency of hand washing. The exhibit consists of a handicapped-accessible black tent that is equipped with black lights.
As part of this program, participants were asked to visit the tent after applying imaginary germs (a non-toxic phosphorescent lotion that will glow in the tent) on their hands. After traveling through the tent, participants were then asked to wash their hands with soap and venture through the tunnel again. Under ultraviolet lights, participants could see traces of lotion remaining on their hands and, thus, were able to determine the effectiveness of their hand washing techniques. This program is used with children, adults, senior citizens, and at risk populations.
Many health experts consider hand washing to be the single most important way to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, as hands are the most common way germs spread. Therefore, it is important to practice proper hand washing techniques. Follow these simple steps:

Email newsletter signup