"It's Easy If You Think About It"

One of the most basic needs of life is that we must all wash our hands. This has been taught to us over and over in school and we always see the sign in a restaurant encouraging workers to wash their hands. When we wash our hands, we prevent the spread of germs to people and other tangible things we may come in contact with. According to a survey taken by the Minnesota Department of Health in 2006, only 55% of high school students wash their hands; in this study, only 33% of females and a mere 8% of males use soap.

I remember learning about how to wash my hands in kindergarten through an educational video; in fact we watched that video two times a year for the next nine years, so I have it pretty much memorized. The woman in the video demonstrated to us how to properly clean our appendages. We have to turn the water on to the hottest temperature that we can tolerate. We then must hold our arms under the water and rigorously scrub soap onto our wrists, hands, and fingers. In the video, she said over and over, “It’s easy if you think about it.” We counted many times how many times she said this and I believe that the consensus was nineteen times.

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In all truth, it is easy if you think about it; in fact, one really shouldn’t have to even think about it. We also see signs telling workers to wash their hands in restaurants. Whenever I go to Potbelly I always look around at the signs and for some reason the sign that catches my attention the most is the one that states, “All employees must wash hands before returning to work. Thanks!” Should we really have to be reminded to wash our hands? Isn’t it such a basic and simple idea that has been reinforced hundreds of times that we should just be programmed to do so? Apparently we do have to be reminded over and over, but why is this? One can argue that there simply isn’t enough time. However, this is folly as one can make the time to do such an easy task to prevent the spread of germs.

Not even all medical professionals follow the rules; they should be the ones setting the right examples for us as they are the ones that are supposedly trying to keep their patients healthy. According to the surgeon Atul Gawande, “Stopping the epidemics spreading in our hospitals is not a problem of ignorance – of not having the know-how about what to do. It is a problem of compliance – a failure of an individual to apply that know-how correctly” (Gawande 22). This quote describes that everybody has been educated how to wash hands properly but follow through with their education. Everybody should know when to wash their hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention we must wash our hands: “Before, during, and after preparing food Before eating food Before and after caring for someone who is sick Before and after treating a cut or wound After using the toilet After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste After touching garbage” After reading these ideas, were you surprised? I wasn’t; it is all common sense to me.

However, if I were a member of the CDC I would also recommend washing hands after eating food, not just before eating. If there ever comes a time in which one simply doesn’t want to wash their hands that person should try to remember what the outcomes of that would be; they can get someone extremely sick and can possibly cause the death of that person. One should always know when the proper time to wash their hands is as it is basically common sense. Just remember, “It’s easy if you think about it.”