By Katrina Gabrelian
We learn basic hygiene skills in elementary school and are told to enforce it all our lives. We are taught to wash our hands and to cover our mouth when we sneeze or cough. Despite all of these lessons that society has drilled into our heads, people still continue to choose not to carry out fundamental health and safety precautions, thus putting themselves and others unnecessarily at risk for illness.
The spread of germs can occur quickly and haphazardly as a result of collective ignorance toward preventative measures. Because of this, it is important for people to follow proper protocol to prevent the spread of illness.
One way to do this is by learning to cover your mouth when you sneeze, which is a common rule that many have learned. It is common courtesy to refrain from sneezing in people’s faces, especially considering the risk of spreading germs to the people around you.
According to researchers at the University of Bristol, the average sneeze or cough can send around 100,000 contagious germs into the air at speeds up to 100 miles per hour.
In order to reduce the number of germs spread from one sneeze, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people cover their noses and mouths with tissues if they are available. Otherwise, they should use their upper sleeve as a barrier.
The basic steps required to prevent the spread of germs are not time consuming. Simply covering your mouth when sneezing takes no extra time or effort, yet people continue to risk getting ill at the cost of a second-long procedure.
Another way that people put themselves at risk for getting sick is by touching their faces. A study by PubMed conducted on a small sample size of students reveals that on average, students touched their face 23 times an hour. In addition, the study showed that 44 percent of that was touching the mouth and eyes.
Touching your face plays a crucial role in the spread of different germs. The mouth and eyes are especially important to avoid because they are direct connections to the rest of the body, which germs can infect.
Hands carry many germs because they are utilized to touch many foreign surfaces which house millions of germs including harmful ones. In order to maintain cleanliness, it is important to wash your hands often and for the recommended amount of time. However, having a busy schedule is no excuse for abstaining from washing your hands; limiting hand-washing to bathroom visits and/or simply running your hands under water is just not the same.
Washing your hands is an important activity, but it is just as important to wash them correctly. The CDC recommends that people scrub their hands for 20 seconds, the same duration of the “Happy Birthday” song. The use of antibacterial soap and warm water is critical in ensuring that all germs are eradicated from the surface of the hand.
Is it really worth staying in bed, sick for five days because you are unwilling to spend an extra 20 seconds washing your hands? Due to people’s ineptitude and laziness, the spread of different diseases has become common because they are not dedicating a few extra minutes a day to ensure their basic hygiene.
Although following protocol for preventing the spread of germs does not guarantee perfect health, it significantly reduces a person’s chances of becoming ill and spreading germs to other people. However, people who willingly choose to ignore protocols put themselves at an unnecessary risk of getting sick.