Serious? We never think about hygiene – let alone that it could kill us.
Washing hands, keeping clean – it’s boring, nag-nag nannying stuff. Not for grown-ups with jobs to do and lives to run.
Not sexy. Totally uncool.
Wishy-washy doesn’t touch us
We never connect hygiene with when we’re sick either.
Somehow germs get to us without any of our own doing. Nothing to do with us, we’re innocent as driven snow.
Reality is, it’s usually something we’ve eaten, or breathed in, or allowed to get infected through an injury we haven’t tended properly. And nine times out of ten in circumstances where things weren’t clean, germs were breeding and we walked right into them.
Caused by ourselves – by our hygiene blind spot.
Yeah, boring. Soap and water, who needs it?
Yet the penny never drops that we’re playing with our lives. That from germs already on our skin, even a simple paper cut could develop into sepsis, that we could be dead inside a week.
Feel-good tops being clean
No, we’re not serious. Which makes us stupid.
Because hygiene, to one level or another, saves our lives every day.
Including default hygiene. Stuff we do that we don’t even think about.
For instance, we don’t wash to get clean, do we? Too super-boring for speech.
But ritual and indulgence – that’s something else.
The long, soaking bath, the invigorating morning shower. Neither are about getting clean – we’re into the feel-good hype and extravagance of it, exactly like the soap ads offer. Treat yourself, relax, enjoy a moment of luxury.
Yeah OK, so we’re clean. But what kind of germ defence is that?
We can’t carry it with us into the day, can we? No lingering in a long, hot tub after making a Number Two at the office – that just isn’t practical. Wrong time, wrong place – we’re at work, gotta perform, go, go, go.
Which puts hygiene out of sight and out of mind, right the way through until our moment of indulgence again.
Most of the time, we get away with it too. Our bodies’ immune systems work overtime to keep us safe, glitching slightly with allergies and intolerances, but otherwise fine.
Meanwhile, our bad habits run unchecked and out of control:
- 95% of people don’t wash their hands properly.
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after the loo.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
Because it’s not important is why. There’s billions and billions of germs all around us every day, any one of which could kill us or make us vegetables. We don’t see them, so we don’t recognise them for what they are.
And we just imagine that as long as we LOOK clean, therefore we are.
So we flounce through the day without a care in the world – only going near a wash basin when our bodies demand the toilet. Inconvenient, so we rush it as quickly as possible – keen to get back to the buzz of living.
Wash hands? Not even on the radar.
Not surprising either with all the limp-wristed appeals around us to do something about it.
PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS has no sense of urgency.
No scare factor either. WASH YOUR HANDS OR DIE is a lot more appropriate.
Particularly when more and more of our miracle drugs are no longer able to pull us back from the jaws of death to compensate for our sloppy hygiene.
Antibiotic resistance is already a global nightmare. And when antibiotics no longer work, washing our hands becomes our ONLY defence against misadventures with dirt and deadly pathogens.
Dead is dead, better to live
OK, so we need to make hygiene urgent. To impress upon ourselves we really are seriously at hazard unless we see the light. Folksy symbols of washing hands won’t crack it – besides the message is boring.
We don’t pussy-foot around with electricity for example. Dead is dead – just as all-conclusive by a dose of harmful bacteria as it is by 30,000 volts.
And dead is what can happen to us if we don’t wash our hands.
Not that it always does – we’re more likely to be ill, sometimes seriously.
E. coli, for example naturally lives in our lower intestine and most strains are harmless. On top of diarrhoea and dehydration however, virulent strains can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, and neonatal meningitis. Few people die from it, but any of those symptoms can develop complications and kill.
And count on it, faecal traces of e. coli are inevitable on many of our trips to the loo – and that’s just one of the many trillions of bacteria we have living in our digestive tract. One of the bugs we have clinging to our fingers.
Not all of them are friendly, so the life threat from sloppy hygiene is very real and we need to change our mind-set.
Get serious or face the consequences, will we ever learn?
Nobody wants to die though, so better pass the soap.
Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo