A day off and you decide to go out to browse and do some shopping. Your in and out of different stores, stopped on the way to the mall to picking up and check out items at a yard sale you spotted, stopped at a service station and filled the car up, made a few calls and texts from your cell phone to meet some friends for dinner later at your favorite restaurant. So, after a few more hours of browsing and pushing carts through various stores, picking up different items that caught your eye checking prices amid the other shoppers, your ready to meet up with your friends for dinner…a local friendly buffet style restaurant.
You meet everyone outside and all go inside. The place is busy as usual. All types of customers are there. Business type, parents and children, college age and seniors, construction workers, a vast array of patrons from anywhere and everywhere.
After getting seated and drink orders taken, everyone gets up to go to the soup and salad bar, and shuffles along with the line of the other hungry souls, waiting for those ahead to check out the different soups and items on the salad bar. You decide on a bowl of soup, pick out a soup cup from the rack, then reach for the ladle. STOP!
Let’s step back and observe a bit. First of all, how many customers coming through the entrance door and seated used the restroom or washed their hands before going to the buffet? Now stop and think about everything your hands touched today and multiply that by the number of all the customers that restaurant has served so far today. That’s how many hands have been on each of those ladles and tongs your going to be touching, not to mention the chair you just pulled out, or the salt and pepper shaker you may use. Face the facts, not everyone practices good personal hygiene, and the hands and nails are the biggest culprit in the spread of bacteria and germs. Now consider everything your own hands have touched throughout the day. Cell phone, keys, shopping carts, door handles, items on the shelves, the gas pump, store counters, the list goes on and on and everything you’ve touched other hands have touched as well. Whatever bacteria or germs they left behind you’ve acquired onto yours, and whatever bacteria or germs you may be carrying are deposited as well waiting for someone else to come along and hitch a ride. Have you or someone you know made the statement, “I don’t know how I picked up this cold, or virus?” Well, no need to ask yourself again. Now you know.
Our hands are the number 1 transporter of virus and infection causing bacteria and germs. Look at the chart above. Approximately 76 out of 100 people either don’t wash their hands at all or don’t use soap to clean their hands properly, even after using the bathroom, and I’ve sat and watched patrons entering restaurants that don’t visit the restroom to wash their hands before going to the buffet, salad bars, or soup kettles.
But it’s not just our hands and nails that are the culprits. Cell phones are. Think about it. We take our cell phones everywhere. They live in our pockets and purses, rubbing up
against loose change and the receipt from the gas station. We use them almost everywhere, and set them on nearly any available surface – the kitchen counter, the table at a café, a park bench. We even share them with others. We pull them out not only to make calls, but also to share videos, play games, send emails and check on our Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Our smartphones are indeed our constant companions, and they are exposed to many bacteria.
Add to this frenzy of activity the fact that germs thrive in warm places. Not only does your smartphone generate its own heat, but it also gets some help from your own body heat by spending time in your hands and next to your mouth. Plus, not many people think to disinfect their phones. It’s no wonder, then, that smartphones are prime breeding grounds for bacteria. Typical phones have more bacteria than your office work space, and some have even more than a toilet seat. In fact, during some studies, traces of feces were found on cell phones.
Hand washing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings and can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. So what is the correct method to washing hands?
According to the CDC:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
Ok, so let’s go back to where we stopped…you were about to reach for that soup ladle. Buffet prices may be cheaper than sit down service restaurants, but think about what you may be getting for free. Still hungry?
What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear it.
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