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This one was a good tip -- something I didn't know.

This one was a good tip -- something I didn't know.

The guy seemed nice enough. He was a student collecting signatures for The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), and he knocked on my door. I was just about to give him mine when he did the unthinkable — he reached over and shook my hand. I hastily signed his petition and closed the door. Then I made a beeline to the sink to scrub my hands. I knew that, especially since he had probably been shaking hands all day, that simple handshake could transmit any number of nasty bugs and diseases. (Not to mention that the pen was probably covered in germs, too.)

As today’s New York Times article demonstrates, washing your hands is one of the most effective things that you can do if you want to reduce the chances of catching colds, coughs, and my personal Achilles’s Heel, the stomach virus. The story dissects several recent studies that prove hand washing and hand sanitizers can reduce the incidence of sickness. “Over all, the risk of getting sick was 20 percent lower in the dorms where hand hygiene was emphasized, and those students missed 43 percent fewer days of school,” reported the Times. Not bad odds. Another study out of Harvard University that looked at families with kids 5 and under who were in daycare found that the risk of catching a stomach virus dropped 60 percent when families practiced good hygiene.

My daughter’s school must have read the same studies. Last last night’s homework was a review of an in-class science experiment. The kids washed their hands using different methods and then discussed which one banished the most germs. At home they were asked to sequence a story, showing the steps to effective hand cleaning. A great lesson for a germaphobe like me! (I was especially excited to learn something new. I always waited until the end to get my paper towels. Never again!)

Too bad the NYPIRG guy didn’t go to the same school.

One Response to “Clean Hands, Fewer Stomach Bugs”

  1. susan delgiorno says:

    i love the towel dispenser in my office bathroom — it’s motion sensitive, so i don’t have to touch the darn thing after i wash my hands. i then hold on to the towel to open the bathroom door too – thank goodness there’s a trash pail right at the door to accommodate my phobia.

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