Tag Archives: wash hands

Quick! Wash your hands before you kill someone!

Dirty hands
When antibiotics don’t work – all that’s between you and killer germs

Alarmist?

Well something’s got to grab our attention. And fast.

Because maybe not today, but some time soon, what’s on our hands may well kill someone. And that person could easily be you.

The antibiotics debacle

Two reasons, both triggered by antibiotics.

One, they don’t work any more. Not all of them, but a heck of a lot – enough to terrify most senior doctors.

Wonder-drugs fifty years ago, today they could be sugar pills. High expectations, but zero performance – pretty well useless. Too much overuse worldwide and the bugs we use them against have become resistant.

Yes, overuse. Particularly by agriculture. Every year more than 65,000 tons of antibiotics are put into feedstuffs – to make beef, pork and poultry animals bulk up for market. And you thought they were just for medicines.

Superbugs

OK, so how about these superbugs they don’t work against any more?

Heard of MRSA? Well add pneumonia, c.difficile, TB, gonorrhoea and e.coli to the everyday list – with a whole stack more queueing behind. Any one of which can do you down without urgent and careful treatment.

So what’s that got to do with dirty hands?

Easy. Antibiotics are our Number One defence against infection.

Cut a dirty hand and it’s antibiotics that protect us from tetanus. Without a quick dose of tetanus immunoglobulin (actually a vaccine), expect convulsions and severe muscle spasms strong enough to fracture the spine – a very, very unpleasant way to die.

Bye bye surgery

That goes for any cut too, not just accidents. Like surgical incisions. Without antibiotics, any surgical procedure becomes just about impossible. Infection is inevitable and patients will die. And that goes for everything from hip replacements to triple bypasses.

Without the wonder-drugs, there’s only one other way to minimise infection with any certainty. By making sure everything is so totally clean, there aren’t any bugs on it. Yes, by washing hands.

And not just by doctors, but by every one of us. Whenever we think of it, over and over again.

Because now we can’t take risks any more. Take a chance, eat with dirty hands, have a stupid accident, face any physical challenge.

Bye bye hospital

WE’RE the first line of defence now, not the doctors. Our own personal hygiene, our own protective washing techniques. Which means staying the heck out of trouble of course, so nothing ever happens to us. Couch potatoes.

Because reality is that hospital will increasingly become the end of the line. No more antibiotics, no more last-ditch hope. Forgetting to wash your hands is a one-way ticket – feet first, to eternity.

And make no mistake, we really are in danger. Because the way most of us are so casual about hygiene, we don’t stand a snowball’s against a serious bug. We don’t wash hands properly, or for long enough. Or, let’s be honest, ever at all.

Now the second thing about antibiotics. The double-whammy waiting to clobber us.

More than fifty years we’ve been using them. 600,000 tons every year – symbolically, the same mass as one of the twin towers at the World Trade Centre that collapsed on 9/11. And potentially even more deadly.

Timid new world

You see, it’s not just bacteria that have changed and mutated over the years, becoming stronger and more resistant. It’s ourselves, probably gobbling down a course of antibiotics at least five times a year. Except we’re not getting stronger, we’re going backwards.

And it’s not just our medicines that contain antibiotics, it’s the food we guzzle as well. A steadily rising threshold of antibiotics in pretty well every kind of meat product – and vegetables as well, from recycled natural waste going into the ground.

More than fifty years of it, continuously every day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacking – is it any surprise we have weaknesses and deficiencies that didn’t exist a generation ago?

You see it’s an awkward fact of life that our own bodies NEED bacteria in order to survive. Millions and millions of years ago we went into partnership with them to do the heavy lifting for digesting food, producing protein and even stabilising our immune systems.

We, aliens

Bacteria colonies in our own bodies outnumber our own human cells by more than 10 to 1. We’re actually aliens. Which is why we have over 100 trillion bacteria naturally resident in our gut. Dropping an antibiotic in amongst that lot is about the same as releasing an atom bomb – killing bacteria left, right and centre, that’s how they work.

Which is why we often get side-effects like being ill all over again – vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea, or worse. And in one way or another, we’ve been continuously bombarding our systems with antibiotics all the way since birth.

Not good for our immune systems – especially in the formative years from one to three, when our bodies are learning which bacteria are good and which are bad – and how to fight against them. That’s what all the eating mud and stuff is about. Equipping ourselves with protection.

Except we don’t eat mud any more, do we? We don’t live out in the country, we’re probably in a tenth-floor walk up. There is no mud – and our mothers would find it repulsive anyway. Which means our bacteria either choreograph that bit out, or develop in different directions.

Mutant beings

Changes in our metabolism and we never even know that they exist.

Take allergies for instance. Twenty years ago nobody had ever heard of urticaria, or coeliac disease, or anaphylactic shock. Yes they existed, but not on the everyday radar. Common as muck now – the muck we didn’t have when we were babies.

Fifty years on and our diet has changed too. We eat different foods, with different values – and all the time the antibiotic level is creeping up higher and higher.

Uh huh. And our resistance is going downer and downer. Today our bodies have conditions nobody even considered before.

Think obesity is something to do with diet? Oh yes, it is – but we can’t change it now. Not seriously. How else could a third of us be so suddenly like that? We’ve bred it into ourselves. Our internal bacteria are a whole new breed that live with low exercise, artificial foods and a high level of antibiotics.

Try running it off at the gym all you like – we’re getting to where we’re so genetically altered, that fat is normal. Yeah, we shouldn’t pig out on the kilo box of Quality Street – but there’s min chance we’ll get to Size 12 without them either.

Lower resistance.

But the same daily challenge of living in a world surrounded by billions and billions of bacteria and viruses – many of them friendly, many of them neutral – and many of them downright deadly.

Wash them away whenever you think of it – sterilise the living area around you with hydrogen peroxide mist. Every day, the battle goes on – and we’re not necessarily winning.

OK, now it’s serious. Keep at it with the soap and water, or someone’s going to die.

Don’t let it be you.

Originally posted 2015-11-11 14:02:01.

100 mph, eyes shut – crashed & burned, eating

Fireball
Eating with dirty hands is just as lethal

Yeah, well it looked safe enough.

Straight hamburger and chips, no big deal.

Except 2 hours later, cramps like dying. Upchucks more violent than a volcano. And you don’t want to know about the runs.

Uh huh.

Don’t blame the restaurant

But forget about suing anyone.

79 people ahead of this one ordered burger and chips. 38 people after.

None of them had anything wrong. Somebody having a laugh?

How come one case of “food poisoning” when everyone else was clean?

Clean – hold that thought.

As in clean hands.

Except it didn’t happen, did it?

The price of forgetfulness

Like doing the ton-up with eyes shut – on bald tyres, with no brakes or seatbelt.

Yeah, possible to get away with it once. Maybe even twice.

But keep chowing that burger without soap and water first – crashed and burned is inevitable.

Like hitting a brick wall. Gruesome at home, solo. Not nice either, at A&E. Better pray the stomach pump works. That dehydration doesn’t crash the body completely.

Dead from a hamburger?

Not unless it lodged in the throat – a Heimlich manoeuvre gone screwy. Not unless it was murder – strychnine or arsenic laced on top.

Hot off the grill

Because a burger gets cooked from frozen – dropped on the grill where it sizzles and does its thing at 155°F – that’s 68°C – too hot for germs like e.coli or salmonella. No food poisoning there.

Ah, but the hands that unwrap it and scoff it. On average, walking down the street, 10 million microbes on each hand. 20 million on both.

Yeah sure, plenty of harmless stuff, nothing to worry about.

Plenty of bad stuff as well. Like faecal matter from being careless in the loo. And all the usual suspects – e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, flu and norovirus. Too small to see, but there anyway – just waiting for an opportunity.

Any one of those – crash and burn big time. Only about 100 deaths each per bug. Annoying reality though – dead unfortunately means dead. No chance to go round and wash hands again. Too late to say sorry.

Better to live

Reality means gone to the big fast food joint in the sky.

Time to slow down. Take it easy, wash hands first.

A lot less of a health hazard.

More chance of living to a ripe old age.

Originally posted 2015-11-02 17:13:15.

10 million germs on our fingertips – no wonder we get norovirus

Painted fingers
A little bit of soap –
and it’s no, no, norovirus

It’s getting to that time of year again.

Cold outside, central heating on, everybody rugged up close.

Parked off with pizza and the TV – and then it starts. First the yuck feeling that maybe you overdid it.

Here it comes

Then the confirmation. Cramps, nausea – angst that you won’t make it to the loo.

Yeah, it’s back. The old winter vomiting bug and everybody’s favourite – norovirus.

Norovirus: a highly contagious group of related, single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis and food poisoning.

Hold that thought – highly contagious.

Not what we need to know – with a body that’s covered in germs all the time.

Yeah, covered. As in heavily colonised inside and out.

At any one time we might have 332,000 genetically distinct bacteria on just one hand – with another 332,000 on the other, not necessarily the same. That’s 332,000 different types – not individual microbes – all clustered in clumps of up to 10 million.

Watch out, they’re gonna get you

Makes you think when you chomp into that pizza.

10 million. Some of them benign, some of them necessary to be there. Some of them real nasties, like e.coli, salmonella, c. difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, colds, flu – and of course norovirus.

Did you wash your hands? Properly, that is – like get all 10 million of them off?

It only needs 10 particles of norovirus to make you ill – compared to 10,000 particles to give you flu. Six seconds under the tap isn’t going to crack it, especially without soap.

But that’s all most of us give it. IF we wash our hands at all – which 62% of men and 40% of women never do.

So yeah, face it – you’ve got germs on your hands, even if you washed them. And it only takes 10 to catch norovirus – one thousandth of one per cent of the bugs that are usually there.

Forget to wash your hands and it’s like trying to cross the M6 on a busy day – blindfolded.

Why winter?

OK, so why does this norovirus nightmare ramp up in winter?

The medics are still scratching their heads, but common sense says that’s when our resistance is down. With less of the summer feel-good, we’re not so blue-sky happy. Lower temperatures, out in the rain – depressing for your body and for your spirit.

Immunity is reduced – and norovirus is on the rampage.

Inevitable really. By choice we’re all indoors, together in groups wherever we are – at home, at work, at leisure. Often seriously crowded, like a night on the town, clubbing.

And not just with germs on our hands – with germs all over us too. It’s how we are every day. We’re even germs ourselves – our own human body cells outnumbered by bacteria more than 10 to 1.

So it’s not just our hands we have to get clean, it’s our whole living environment – as far as we can.

Because all the things around us are covered in germs too. Tables, chairs, knives, forks, phones – everything. And the air itself, the invisible 80% of the indoor spaces we live in – teeming with invisible microorganisms.

Germ protection force field

Right, so we wash our hands – but we can’t keep standing under a shower all day.

No, so how about we take the germs out of the enclosed spaces we need to occupy?

If there’s no germs in your office, you can’t catch a bug. The same with schools, hotel rooms, restaurants, supermarkets, cruise ships, you name it.

And how do you take the germs out like that?

With a Hypersteriliser.

It’s a bit pricey for home use, but perfect for businesses. Misting up the entire space with super-fine hydrogen peroxide, which grabs at all viruses and bacteria, oxidising them to oblivion.

Ionised too, so it reaches right in to cracks and crevices – all molecules repelling each other with the same electrical charge, forced apart trying to get away from themselves.

Forty minutes later, the place is sterile. Zero germs, no norovirus lurking, no nothing. Nothing to transfer to your hands either, so you’re safe.

Well, as safe as you can be with each of us trailing an invisible aura of microorganisms all the time – our own bio-signature of bacteria unique to us. Mostly benign, but able to affect others.

Sigh. You can’t win all the time. But if you’re living area is totally sterile, you can have a jolly good try.

Originally posted 2015-10-14 15:45:38.

Safe hands – are we soft-soaping ourselves?

Hand washing woman
Wipes are better – your antibacterial soap isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Maybe the penny’s beginning to drop.

That we need to keep our hands clean to avoid germs.

Which is kinda important because more and more antibiotics aren’t working against them any more.

Danger, health hazard

So dirty hands mean we’re going to get sick.

Whoops! What do you mean, dirty hands? They look alright don’t they?

Besides, washing your hands all the time is a mission. Most of us skimp on the job – or avoid it all together.

Disagreeable facts

Which kinda underlines a recent report that antibacterial soap isn’t any more effective than your actual El Cheapo from Tesco. Apparently the bio-active goodie in the soap, triclosan, doesn’t kill germs with the usual exposure time most people give it – it actually needs NINE hours.

That’s because ‘Elf & Safety or whoever only allow a very small amount to be in your soap – so its real germ-fighting ability doesn’t amount to a row of beans.

Not that our regular soap is likely to be any better. Most of us hardly ever use it. We shake our hands around for five seconds under the tap – and reckon that’s it. Spreading more germs as we shake our hands afterwards – while the air dryer blasts the rest all over the wash room.

Fact is, we don’t LIKE washing our hands – even though we know it’s necessary.

So yeah, we feel a twinge of conscience if we sit down in a restaurant for a slap-up meal – IF we even think of washing our hands at all.

Too much PT, don’t bother.

The soap and water alternative

Except that some of us have got clever and we’re using gel or wipes – handy for pocket or handbag, we never need to be caught out.

Oh sure, the Parent Police will have a go at us for using them. Shielding our kids from exposure to germs retards their immune systems. At least, that’s the received wisdom.

But let’s be practical. Are your hands going to get clean or not?

The bathroom’s down the hall anyway – away from the action. Far better to use a gel or wipe. They’re instant and now. And at least you take care of the germs.

OK, that’s the soap and water story nailed. So which is it, gel or wipe?

Both have antibacterial action – the real kind. So which should it be?

Horses for courses.

Though for our money, wipes work better.

Easy gel

Yes, with gel, it’s easy-peasy. You put the stuff on, work your hands around, shake ’em about a bit for the stuff to evaporate – job done.

Still prefer wipes. If there’s visible gunge on your hands, you’ve got something to physically wipe it off. As good as a face cloth or a sponge. And the antibacterial job gets done too. No viruses or bacteria, you’re safe and good to go.

Oh right, you still have to get rid of the wipe.

So what are we, helpless? Into the bin – or a bag you can keep it in until you find one. Or your pocket.

Disposable wipes

What do you mean, carrying germs around with you?

You’re not wrong, that’s why the bag. Don’t you keep one handy because the shops all charge for them these days?

We shouldn’t be squeamish either. Back in the day, we’d blow our nose on a hankie and carry that around with, full of gunk. A tissue would get dumped ASAP – and so will a moist-wipe.

Works for us. We HATE washing, so we carry wipes. So we never get caught out – clean hands ALWAYS before meals and after the loo.

End of the grudge habit

It’s not like some secret ritual either. Nobody looks too worried if you’re wiping your hands at table or outside in the passage. Probably even miffed that they didn’t think of it themselves.

Plus it pays off too. No, no, norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease – it just doesn’t happen.

And can you remember the time you last had a cold or flu?

Safe hands – yes, of course.

Originally posted 2015-09-18 13:13:17.

Wash your hands and you get to live another day

Hip hop dancer
Clean hands! No germs!
Another day to celebrate!

Splish, splash, done. Now to have some fun.

Because germs are a real downer.

Feeling good one minute, feeling grim the next.

And you could even wind up dead.

Down the plughole

All because – just once – you missed out on the soap and water.

Nah! It’s never going to happen to you, is it?

You’re pretty clean most of the time anyway.

Check your hands, not a mark on them. Like you wouldn’t eat with dirt on them, would you? And not straight from the loo and down the hatch either.

Ew!

Not healthy. Not sexy.

But we all forget to do it all the time. You’re in a rush, you’re having a good time. And maybe, maybe, you just missed out washing yourself once or twice.

You only live once

Except it only takes once for germs to get a hold. Through your mouth. From wiping your eye. They’re not fussy.

And being dead is not sexy either. Neither is rolling in agony with guts ache. Or your head pounding. Or both. Sometimes so bad that you worry you might NOT die.

Or you might be paralysed, deformed, stuck in a wheelchair, or out of your mind.

A hell of a chance to take, isn’t it?

Yet with 100 trillion bacteria already living INSIDE your body – and trillions and trillions more always all around – those are the odds you’re up against.

An easy choice though, hey?

A proper go with soap and water gets rid of 99.9% of them. Drying off properly even more, because germs thrive on wet surfaces.

As quick as it takes to sing to yourself: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, may you always live in sunshine, Happy Birthday to you.

Happy Birthday?

All for you

Sure, with no germs on you – no viruses or bacteria – you get to celebrate being alive again.

Another day.

Another one out of 22,000 – which is all most of us get.

Just by washing your hands.

So easy peasy, a child could do it.

Which kind of says – if it isn’t a lifetime habit already, it should be.

So you can enjoy the good times.

Because being sick isn’t fun. Out of it and lying in bed, sometimes for months – depending on what you’ve got. Not like an accident you have no control over. Stuck there because a germ was ALLOWED to find its way into you.

No way, José

Preventable, avoidable, unnecessary.

Just by washing your hands.

Do it now, while you think about it. Always after the loo and before you eat.

Yes, you’ve made it to another day.

Now enjoy it!

Originally posted 2015-07-07 12:31:38.

How we pay for being the Great Unwashed

Stressed woman
We cause our own illnesses and never know why

It’s the cause of just about every sickness we’ll ever have – sloppy hygiene that leaves us open to infection.

Sure, Great Unwashed is not a handle any of us like.

But it’s accurate, however much we may be in denial.

Hurry, hurry!

And if we think about it for more than two seconds, we’ll recognise the truth – and ourselves. Being the Great Unwashed is the downside of this fast-paced life we live, stampeded into Go-Go-Go! all the time.

Yeah, we’re unwashed – and here’s the dirt on us – the Never-Never society – never wash, never clean, never healthy:

Pretty gruesome, hey?

Because somehow our culture is all screwed up – we expect to bathe and groom regularly, but there’s so little focus on washing hands.

Start with your own home. Nice shower, nice bath – the indulgence of getting clean, symbolic for so many of us in washing away the day, soaking away our troubles.

Style isn’t everything

But how about the loo? Not how stylish it looks, or the indulgence of its heated seat – but how far is it from the basin? How easy is it to clean your hands after a major session and you need to get rid of the yuck?

Kind of OK if you’re about to have a shower or bath. Not so good if you’re ready to go to work and on your way out of there.

Because what’s the first thing you do after using the toilet paper? Pull up your pants, right? ‘Cos you can’t shuffle to the basin tied up like a chain-gang con. But you haven’t washed your hands yet, so whatever’s on them is transferred to your pants – and any other clothing you might fix at the same time.

Ew! Which brings us to another gross-out:

So somehow you make it to the basin and you hit the taps – yuck on your clothes and now on the handles. Will you remember to wash them off? Make that a maybe.

It’s easier though, if the basin is next to the loo. With any luck, you might be able to scrub up while sitting on the hopper. Not easy, skewing yourself around – but do-able if you’re determined.

Exactly the opposite if you have a separate loo. It’s a whole mission to get yourself back on your feet and ready to move, so chances are you forget about the whole business and get the heck out of Dodge.

Dirty dinner

Puts a whole new complexion on the “guest’s cloaks” you have under the stairs, doesn’t it? If it’s just a toilet and no basin, visitors will just have to sit down at your dinner party as if everything’s OK.

Which is exactly where our problem starts.

We THINK of ourselves as a clean society and we THINK we’re OK. Our hands LOOK clean, so we ASSUME they are. No visible germs, so it never occurs to us that there are any.

AND WE GO THROUGH THE WHOLE DAY LIKE THAT!

All the time we have the mind-set that because our hands look clean, there’s no need to worry. Which is how come it’s possible we might sit down to dinner in a restaurant with no soap and water coming anywhere near our hands since before breakfast. Don’t you love curry, all that touch-feely eating-with-your-fingers stuff?

And never mind how clean your hands started out, what have you touched during the day that might have added to the invisible nasties that are already there? What did you pick up? What did you throw away? Who did you shake hands with? What did you have to wipe off?

How about money? Well for a start, the shock merchants will sound off that 90% of US dollar bills are contaminated with cocaine. But worse, paper money can easily carry more germs than a toilet – e. coli, enterobacter, salmonella, acinetobacter, staphylococcus aureus, bacillus, streptococcus pneumoniae, norovirus, take your pick.

Uh huh. Then how about credit cards, ATMs, mobiles, supermarket trolleys and the rest? When do they ever get cleaned? And yet we think they’re safe – well sure we do, because why don’t we wash our hands after touching them?

Do you know where it’s been?

But do you know what we touch more than anything else – dirty hands or whatever? Our faces, 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Our most sensitive, vulnerable places – eyes, nose and mouth – every germ’s favourite way into the body.

Remember norovirus? Extreme cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, the works – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease, probably the best proof yet that we’re The Great Unwashed.

We don’t think of ourselves as that, but we are. And until we wake up and do something about it, all kinds of horrible things can happen to us – and it will all be our fault.

Originally posted 2015-06-23 12:29:11.

Wash your hands, yes – but dry them safely?

Girl with soapy hands
And for your next trick – how to get them dry safely

You’ve done the whole thing – soap and running water for two minutes, the backs of your hand too, and in between the fingers.

Phase One complete – exactly the way we’re inspired to by those hygiene experts at Northampton General Hospital.

So now your hands are dripping.

Clean, yes – but with residual germs contained in the water drops.

Which means Phase Two – removing the moisture AND the residual germs.

Where’s the drying doohickey?

If you’re at home, there’s probably a towel within easy reach – a fresh one, because you’re that kind of person.

That’s OK, as long as you only use the thing once. Wiping your hands gets rid of the moisture – and has a certain scraping action that gets a lot of the germs off.

But now they’re on the towel which is already moist and at room temperature. Perfect for germ reproduction, which they will certainly do, doubling in number every twenty minutes or so. Chuck it in the laundry and they’ll get sorted.

But put the towel back on the rail to be used again and you’re setting yourself up for re-contamination. You wash your hands again and a whole load of new germs arrive just when you think you’ve got them clean.

Uh, huh. You’ve gone backwards.

Re-germing

Better if you’re in a hotel of course. Fresh linen every day, so it’s use once and chuck. But have two showers, one in the evening and one next morning, both with the same towel and… you guessed it – you’ve re-germed yourself again.

How about elsewhere? Public places, shared washrooms, lines of loos and hand basins and – gasp – other people.

Keep your eyes open, what you’ll see will shock you. Like around half of everybody busily pushing through don’t even bother to wash their hands. Weirdly, some of them will even look like they’re going through the motions – actually standing at the basin – but not physically doing anything.

Why is this, people all in a rush? The place might be done up nice, but it’s hardly where you’ll want to linger. No plugs in the basins for a start – though that’s a good way of compelling you to use running water.

I don’t wanna queue

There certainly IS an issue with hand drying. If the place gets anywhere busy, like Saturday morning at a shopping mall, there’s ALWAYS a queue for the towel dispenser or air dryer.

Right there could be one reason people don’t wash – they see the queue and stump out of there in a late model huff. Another sub-group avoid the queue by wiping their hands on their clothes. Let’s hope neither of them are going to sit down and have a meal with their hands like that.

Could also be the drying method puts them off. Plus the six to ten steps across the floor to the drying thing with your hands dripping, before you can even start.

The yuck method

It’s dying a death now, but the old cloth roller towel dispenser is still around. You know the one – where you grab both edges of a section previously used by someone else to give yourself a fresh piece, pull down hard and then wipe.

Yes, it gets your hands dry – but there’s a good chance you’ve got somebody else’s germs in using it. And the somebody after you gets yours.

How about a paper towel dispenser?

Fiendishly difficult contraptions to operate when your hands are wet – jamming, bunching up, or refusing to dispense all together. You get your hands dry alright, but usually with a wodge the size of a football before you’ve finished – and requiring a dexterity level at least on par with those amazing technical ladies who solder miniature circuit boards.

Despite all this, paper towels are undoubtedly the safest. Use once and throw away – brilliant in principle.

The turbo-blaster

But technology’s not finished with you yet, because there’s also the air dryer. Either a weak buzzing machine that does nothing, or a force-feed jet blast from a supersonic wind tunnel. Yes, you’ll get you hands dry if you wait long enough – though it will auto shut-off at least five times before you do.

Uh, huh. Check the floor underneath. A lot of people like you dripped for several minutes before the drying became effective. And have you noticed how humid it always seems to get in there?

A lot of water drops are being blasted off into smaller germ-laden droplets and spreading throughout the room. You walk in to go for a sprinkle – and walk out with a dose of flu.

King of the dryers right now is undoubtedly the triple whammy air blade dryer. Pioneered by the Dyson people, who are all totally brilliant. But again, not designed for someone with dripping hands.

Check the floor of the compartment underneath where you put your hands in though – there’s usually a pool of water. Look at the walls alongside and you’ll see damp squidges radiating out – airborne germ clouds, just like the other jobs.

So what to do?

Hygiene magic

Lucky for all of us, there’s a guy called Joe Smith who has it all worked out. Shake your hands after washing, then dry them with a single sheet of folded paper. Check out his video on TED – if nothing else, his charisma will have you remembering how to get your hands dry safely for ever.

Joe’s mantra is SHAKE your hands to get rid of the drops – then FOLD the paper to give you enough absorbency to remove the moisture. Try it, it works – big time.

But there’s still the problem of acquiring your piece of paper in the first place. Joe has them all primed and ready. But you will have to battle with some kind of dispenser – and with wet hands as we’ve seen before, you really need to be Fukimoto-san, high-tech solder expert.

There is however, a way out. To reverse Joe’s mantra and do it backwards: first FOLD, then SHAKE.

Fold, as in have the single sheets pre-folded in a dispenser you can extricate them from with wet hands. NONE of the existing ones on the market allow you to do this with any ease.

Pre-folding

OK, so have a cup of coffee while you think about it – at Costa’s, where they seem to know a thing or two. Including – though they don’t know it – how to get your hands dry.

Because the paper napkin you take to your table is already pre-folded into four – and easily accessible, packed loose in an open-topped container along with the spoons, sugar, straws and stir-sticks for you to help yourself.

Picking up one of those without lifting a whole fistful is a breeze. So if your washroom had a box of those on the vanity slab beside each basin, it would be a doddle.

No more trudging to the dispenser or dryer, dripping on the floor. The FOLD is already done. You SHAKE your hands, keeping them in the basin so all the drops stay in the right place. Then you pick up a sheet and dry your hands. Clean, dry and safe, because all the germs go in the bin.

Back to Earth

So why all the rigmarole with expensive machines that don’t really work?

Search us.

Though the legend is not lost on us that when the Americans sent the astronauts into space, they spent millions developing a pen that would write in a vacuum, upside down if necessary, and on all surfaces.

The Russians gave their cosmonauts pencils.

Paper, scissors, rock – paper wins.

Originally posted 2015-06-11 17:51:00.

Chicken is OK to eat, as long as you’re careful

Girl with chicken
There’s a problem with chicken? I never knew there was a problem with chicken

Well, here we are.

One week on from Food Safety Week – one week on from the 2015 Chicken Challenge – and most of us are still alive. A roll of drumsticks please!

Yep, we’re learning.

Doing the bold thing

Thanks to sterling efforts by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), we’re all making the effort to avoid food poisoning from chicken by:

  • keeping raw chicken separate from other all other food, where it can’t drip or leak on the bottom shelf of the fridge
  • not washing raw chicken or splashing water from it around as this spreads highly contagious campylobacter germs
  • actively washing everything that’s been in contact with raw chicken to remove germs from cutting boards, utensils, and of course hands – all with plenty of soap and hot water
  • ensuring chicken is thoroughly cooked through – no more pink meat and juices running clear

Do all these things and we’re safe from the widespread campylobacter bug – the one that causes more of us to have cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea than any other common tummy germ.

Widespread? Oh yes. It’s the UK’s No 1 cause of tummy upsets.

Most birds, all birds

Hardly surprising as around 75% of all poultry has campylobacter resident in its gut. And we are a nation of chicken-eaters – 2.2 million chickens a week, 803 million chickens a year.

That’s a meal of chicken at least once a month for everyone in the UK.

Which has the FSA breathing fire and brimstone that poultry producers and the supermarkets should be doing something about it. They want birds with campylobacter reduced to zero. 280,000 people a year go ill with campylobacter – and this is the Twenty-First Century for goodness sake!

Other people are in on the act too. Like the consumer heavy who said: “It beggars belief that nearly three-quarters of chickens on sale in supermarkets are still infected with this potentially deadly bug and that no retailers have met the FSA’s target.”

Infected?

Healthy as nature intended

Time to get real. You see, 75% of all poultry has campylobacter because it occurs naturally in birds. Their digestive system is not the same as ours, so the bacterium is benign, non-pathogenic, harmless.

Inhabited, yes, but not infected. All these birds are perfectly healthy.

Robbing them of campylobacter could even do them harm.

Besides, we know the dangers and how to fix them, why point a finger at the poultry farmers?

It’s like locking up cows because they get muddy feet. Well of course they do, they eat grass – and in this green, green, rain-drenched UK of ours, grass gets wet all the time, so mud is inevitable.

But we don’t penalise the cows for muddy feet – just like we don’t penalise chickens for having campylobacter.

We have a defence

Heat through pasteurisation kills the germs in milk – and heat through cooking kills the germs in chickens.

So yes, it’s right to make a fuss, the FSA is right. But not by controlling the birds.

By fixing the packaging.

By protecting us from any leaks or contamination from raw chicken meat, right through to the cooked birds which are harmless.

And yes, right now most packaging is pretty manky. Rack ’em, stack ’em, and pack ’em bargain basement stuff that leaks all over the place – no wonder we come down with the bug.

About the best are cook-in-the-bag prepared recipes. Safe because the chicken and all ingredients are sealed in to make sure the recipe works.

But check out any of the El Cheapo packs of wings and drumsticks – it’s a whole other story.

And if that stuff leaks on your other shopping, on in the fridge when you finally get it home, the family could be in for a really ropey few days.

Time for action

Yeah, so come on FSA – hit those guys hard for better packaging and everybody will be better off.

Until then though, don’t take chances. Keep your chicken in its own separate plastic wrapping away from everything else – and don’t forget to wash your hands. (Tweet this)

Bon appetit!

Originally posted 2015-05-29 22:22:22.

How to make 95% of your illnesses go away

Girl showing off hands
Wash your hands regularly and you
need never go to hospital again

A few ground rules.

Let’s not include upsets caused by your mind. No romantic distresses, job apprehensions, exam nerves or stress-related angst.

We’re talking genuine sicknesses here – like colds, flu or worse. Or tummy bugs that might start with diarrhoea and get nasty from there.

Yeah, you got gut ache

All the way from mild discomfort to hospital stuff – including monsters like typhoid. Pretty well anything you can eat or touch.

Are you ready?

Wash your hands.

That’s it. Just, wash your hands.

Ah, but you’ve got to do it properly. Because though all of us claim we wash our hands, 95% of us don’t do it properly, or even at all.

Don’t believe it?

Researchers at Michigan State University hid in bathrooms and recorded physical evidence. Seems most of us waggle our hands under the tap and that’s it.

Ah, but that’s Yanks, you say. We know better here.

Oh yeah? According to a recent survey right here in UK, 62% of men and 40% of women admitted that they didn’t even bother.

Uh huh. So that’s a whole bunch of us waltzing round with poo and wee on our hands.

You ready for the next yucky? We’re not just waltzing around, but we’re touching our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day. Transferring invisible gunk to our eyes, mouth and nose – exactly the same passages germs use to get in – over and over, like we WANT to catch a bug.

Go away, bugs!

Which makes it kind of unsurprising when we do. We’re so unhygienic we DESERVE to come down with something – at least norovirus or one of those other nasties that gives us the runs.

Worse than that, we use those same yucky hands to eat. Sure, they don’t look yucky, but those billions of viruses and bacteria living on there are so small, how the hell would we know?

OK, so you’re ambitious and pushing your career, so busy you often eat at your desk – burger and chips while you check your business pitches – multi-tasking so your bosses love you.

You got it – those same greasy fingers all over your keyboard and phone.

And when was the last time you wiped either of them down – last week, last month, last year? So that’s burger and chips on top of the chicken fajitas from yesterday, and the egg salad mayonnaise on wholewheat from the day before.

No wonder experts reckon you’ve got upwards of 10 million disease-causing bacteria living there – that place is a zoo!

Run to the Doc

So who’s fault is it if one of these bugs riding round on your hands decides to hit you with an infection? You and the other 65 million people living in bonny UK – all gumming up the works to see your GP, or running to A&E with your tummy bug because you can’t get an appointment?

And we have the nerve to say that our NHS services can’t cope!

With not even a guilty conscience that all we have to do is use a little soap and water after the loo and before eating to make all those ailments go away. Aren’t we heartily ashamed of ourselves?

We should be. So to pull our thinking straight about something we all know, here’s a polite hand-washing reminder from America’s health heavyweights, the Centers for Disease Control – the same people who safeguard the world against Ebola, malaria, TB, diabetes and all the other more serious challenges or doctors are fighting with every day.

Easy, huh?

Just wash your hands and everything goes away. (Tweet this)

No probs

You don’t have to buy Imodium because your tummy’s fine. Or get the Doc to check your chest because your lungs are clear. Or have your appendix removed because it’s fine.

Super-boring, nothing to talk about, and you should live to be a hundred.

Not allergic to soap are you? So use a sanitising gel. Carry one with you always, because you can’t always get to a bathroom.

Mind how you go though, clean hands can’t protect you from accidents.

Originally posted 2015-05-13 14:46:59.

You’re already covered in germs, so why aren’t you sick?

Saisfied girl
If your hands are clean, you’re safe for life!

Germs are everywhere.

Outside you, all over your body.

Inside you too – as much as 6 pounds of them. Smaller than the eye can see, which means billions and billions. Like, more than 60 billion in your mouth alone – more than the number of people on Earth.

Yes, you’re covered in germs – and you’re still walking around, happy as Larry.

Living with danger

First off, your immune system is up and running, keeping you out of trouble. Like a Star Trek force-field, it prevents infections happening before they start.

That cut on your hand, for instance. It bled a bit, so you sucked at it until it stopped. Maybe washed it, but that made it bleed more. So you held a tissue over it before it stopped you doing stuff – and then you forgot about it.

A cut, on your hand. Which you use for everything. Getting goo in it, dirt and crud. Petrol even, from filling the car. Dirty water, clean water, hair gel, raw food. See how your force-field protects you?

And it’s stronger, more effective for all the dirt you used to eat as a kid. All the bacteria types it learnt about and sussed how to handle. The body’s bio-database, keeping you healthy.

The 2% bad guys

Second, not all germs are bad. Only around 2% contain harmful pathogens that can actually do you damage. The rest are either benign, just coasting until they find the REAL host they’re looking for, or even actively beneficial.

It’s not just pro-biotic yoghurt that’s good for you. Down in your gut there’s around 4,000 other bacteria types necessary for digestion. The body did a deal with them millennia ago – now they live inside you in perfect synergy – you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

Thing is though, 2% of billions and billions is still a lot.

Which means you’re still at hazard if you don’t take care.

Snatch hold of a grab-handle in the Underground and you’re probably OK, even though it’s a high-touch object and certainly has germs on it. Just not the bad guys, most of the time.

Grab hold of a bed-rail visiting somebody in hospital though, and it’s another story. It’s a high-touch object too, but in hospital people are ill. A large number of ill people all in one place. So all that hand-washing they bang on about is to protect you as much as them.

And just because you’re safe most of the time doesn’t mean you should take chances.

Wash, wash, wash

Washing your hands after using the loo is like super-important. It’s impossible to avoid getting yuck on them, especially if you do a No 2.

But you’ve got to wash properly, not waggle your fingers under the tap. Use soap and work it around and through your fingers. Keep at it while you run all of “Happy Birthday” through your head. 90% of us never do this – and then wonder why we come down with norovirus or salmonella or e. coli or whatever.

Use a paper towel to dry off with too. Not a cloth one, even at home. Germs cling onto that big time.

And not one of those air dryers either – you know, the hot-blow squeegees? Just look around, on the walls and floor where they’ve got these things. Drops of water, right? Faecal-contaminated water from somebody’s bum.

So keep your hands to yourself and get out of Dodge, ASAP. You’re in a bad location where the 2% boys hang out – which is why public toilets have the bad rep that they do. They might look spic and span, but all that moisture – germs love it, floating around in the air.

And bad germs from our hands probably cause more illnesses than any other sources put together. We touch ourselves and each other – particularly our faces – and the 2% boys climb in through the soft mucous membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth.

Next thing you know, heave-ho, up-chuck, beebaa siren – and they’re rushing you into an over-crowded A&E.

A Little Bit of Soap

Yup, suddenly you’re another statistic for the punch-drunk NHS – continually reeling from admissions like yours – that could all have been prevented by a Little Bit of Soap, like the Jarmels sang in 1961.

If 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly, how many hospital cases could we prevent if we did? (Tweet this)

Which is why, wherever germs threaten, more and more places are starting to use a Hypersteriliser.

No, it won’t clean your hands – nor will it knock out the billions of good germs already inside your body.

But it will take out ALL germs – including the 2% boys – in any room that’s treated with its super-fine germ-killing hydrogen peroxide plasma mist.

No getting sick, no over-crowded hospital – even though you’re still covered in germs.

Have a nice day!

Originally posted 2015-05-11 12:21:21.