Friday, October 9, 2009

Germ Warfare 101

Nothing strikes fear into a mother's heart quite like a public restroom. It is the fear of the unknown, the possibility of a germ or virus lingering on a knob, a handle, a know the feeling. My children are quite the trained professionals at using their elbows to navigate doors and dryer buttons, using paper towels to handle trash cans, flushing with their foot, and alas, washing with soap and water. It may sound a little Mommy militant, but a new study backs up the cause for concern.

An article featured at shows a poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of LifeBridge Health reveals when in a public restroom without soap or towels, 74 percent of American adults who use public restrooms would rinse their hands with water and let them air dry.

“They might as well not even bother,” says John Cmar, M.D., an internist at LifeBridge Health’s Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and expert on infectious diseases. “Washing with water alone does not get rid of microbes – the action of working up a lather with soap, and then rinsing it off, is what washes them away. Plus, by touching the sink faucet – one of the dirtiest things in a restroom – these people could be adding even more germs to their hands.”

The study seems to show alarm over the H1N1 Flu is causing 8 out of 10 Americans to wash their hands more frequently. Infectious disease experts recommend scrubbing hands with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday through twice. When in doubt hand sanitizer can also be used to kill the germs.

It sounds so simple, but with young children it is not always easy to pull off the perfect restroom pit stop. Taking the time to teach good hand washing techniques can pay off in big dividends especially when your family isn't entertaining the latest germ on the block. Try instead to entertain with a nice round of Happy Birthday.