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Letters From Lockdown (3): Stop Touching Public Faucets, Flushers and Door Handles!

Hand hygiene in public places - don't be shy about it

Photo: Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

This third “Letter From Lockdown” is about something you really should start doing today. Most of us have seen televised hand washing demonstrations – wetting the hands, lathering up, cleaning the front and back of hands thoroughly, between fingers and rubbing the nails into the palm, rubbing soap and water around and then rinsing — all while silently singing Happy Birthday twice (twenty seconds).

In some demonstrations, people turn off the faucet with one of their hands – possibly reinfecting themselves. DON’T DO THAT!!

You can use your covered elbow on handle faucets and a thick paper towel on those annoying ones you have to turn. Don’t do what one demonstrator did:  After washing and drying his hands with a paper towel, he wiped the faucet, tossed the paper towel into his other clean hand, and then into the bin. DON’T DO THAT!  After turning the faucet off with a paper towel, get the towel right into the bin.

If there’s a chance that you might have been infected, wash again.

When you use a public restroom, don’t touch the toilet flusher or door handle with your hand. Have another folded paper towel in your pocket for that, use folded toilet paper or a foot to flush (if you’re agile and can lean against the side – not the door).  If need be, use the end of a shirt or coat to open the cubicle and later the exit door. The same applies to locking and unlocking a cubicle door.  None of these things are perfect, but they’re better than using your hands.

I’ve been taking such measures for a long time. A nurse recently wrote to say she does the same and hasn’t been sick for years. In the past, you might have gotten a few looks. Not likely now. Besides, that shouldn’t matter. We’re in a pandemic!

Use a knuckle if you must push an elevator button and then do not touch your face before washing your hands thoroughly. If you use a public stair bannister, wash your hands immediately afterward. If that’s not possible, use hand sanitizer. If you feel awkward about it, share the sanitizer. I bet you’ll have some takers!

Regularly clean the area where you work as Dr. Sanjay Gupta recommends.  Have sanitizer gel at your work desk.  If you can’t find any, there are recipes online, including on the link in this paragraph.

If someone is or could be sick in your house, use some of the same hygiene processes above to prevent the spread of infection.  Keep the faucets disinfected and anything that will be handled by family members. Wash your hands after doing so even if you wore gloves. Use separate towels.

After a while, steps like these become second nature.  As we learn more about COVID-19 or things change, including the virus itself, different or additional measures may be needed. These are a good, strong start.

Be safe. Be well. Kathleen

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