It's no secret that good hand washing is important in stemming the flow of germs and reducing the transmission of viruses and bacteria. My preschooler knows that the first thing he's supposed to do when he gets to school is wash his hands. That rule was adopted last year in response to a stomach virus that almost shut the school down at one point in the winter. Kids are particularly prone to touching things they shouldn't and putting fingers where they shouldn't, but all of us pick up and carry germs on our hands. A few years ago, Good Morning America tracked a group of college students during a regular day and discovered, maybe not surprisingly, that hand washing skills could use improvement. Even pressing fingers onto a couple of prepared agar plates and taking a look under a microscope might send you running for a bottle of hand sanitizer. So, what's the best way to wash hands to help protect yourself and others?
While you should wash your hands for at least twenty seconds and always after sneezing or blowing your nose, it's also important to keep in mind that it's harder to get germs off of some parts of the hands than others. The "Spread the Soap, Not the Germs" Science Buddies science fair project idea uses Glo Germ gel and an ultraviolet pen light to help students see the germs and detect areas of heaviest concentration. A little ultraviolet light can go a long way to exposing what they're carrying around and leaving behind on every book, doorknob, and cup they touch.