By Rylee Seavers | Broadcast Reporter
I am a germophobe. Ask any one of my friends. I always have hand wipes or hand sanitizer with me, I will not eat without washing my hands, and the first thing I do when I get home is make a trip to the sink. Seriously.
I am not quite at the level of Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good as it Gets,” but anyone who knows me will tell you I am serious when it comes to my wet wipes.
I realize this is probably extreme in the opinions of many, but there is nothing more exasperating for a clean freak than people who don’t wash their hands. According to a study by Michigan State University, only five percent of people wash their hands long enough to kill germs. If this isn’t the apocalypse, then I don’t know what is.
Washing your hands is a key to avoiding illness, according to the Center for Disease Control, and it is estimated that if people regularly washed their hands, a million deaths could be prevented every year. That’s no joke. The study also showed that 15 percent of men and 7 percent of women didn’t wash their hands at all, and when they did, only 50 percent of men used soap, while 78 percent of women did. People, please wash your hands.
According to the CDC, the correct way to wash your hands is to wet your hands, turn off the faucet and scrub your hands with soap for 20 seconds, rinse your hands, and then dry on a clean towel. Michigan State’s study found that most people only wash their hands for about 7 seconds. Washing your hands correctly can decrease the chances of coming down with a food-borne illness by 50 percent.
Think about when you eat at Penland Dining Hall, and you use the serving utensils (that who knows how many people have touched before you) to put your food on your plate, then you eat without washing your hands. Even if you aren’t touching your food with your hands, you now have germs on your hands from touching serving utensils, which someone who is sick could have used. According to Mayo Clinic, germs accumulate on your hands throughout the day, so if you touch your face after using those utensils, you increase your risk of getting sick.
The CDC recommends washing your hands when preparing food, before eating, before and after caring for a sick person or treating a wound, after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, touching garbage and after touching an animal (no, a dogs mouth is not cleaner than a human’s).
Think about it this way, if you wash your hands correctly, you become a member of an elite group of people who ward off sickness with only the power of soap and water. I don’t know a single college student who wouldn’t like to avoid getting sick, because, let’s be honest, it always hits you at the most inconvenient times, like when you are in the middle of midterms and have a group project and a paper due.