Be a Germ-Buster

Photo Illustration by Andrea Godoy

Safety Committee initiative encourages handwashing

By Kathryn Strong

The Amarillo College Safety Committee and the Student Government Association are teaming up to inform students about the importance of handwashing on campus.

“Safety should be a concern of the entire AC community,” said Lt. Steve Chance, AC Safety Committee chairman.

The Safety Committee plans to inform students about the importance of proper hand washing by distributing information pamphlets and placing fliers around AC campuses with help from SGA.

“We are happy to support this safety initiative,” said Student Life Director Heather Atchley.

According to experts, washing hands correctly is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

“Handwashing removes most of the pathogens that cause some disease,” said Dr. Robert Bauman, an AC professor of biological sciences. “Getting rid of these pathogens before they reach the eyes, nose or mouth stops them before they can spread.”

Several types of diseases can be prevented by proper hand washing, Bauman said.

They include:

Fecal-oral transmission spread diseases such as salmonella and hepatitis A

Indirect respiratory diseases like influenza, Streptococcus and the common cold

Secondary liquid transmission spread diseases such as Typhus and Staphylococcal

“Washing hands is the No. 1 thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu,” Bauman said. “Most people get the flu from picking the virus up from the environment and transferring it to themselves.”

Bauman recommends handwashing when preparing food, before eating, when caring for someone who is ill, after using the restroom, when changing diapers, after touching garbage and after touching animals or animal waste.

“Wash your hands anytime you touch an egg,” Bauman said. “It is impossible to get an egg that is not contaminated with E. Coli or salmonella.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is a right way to wash hands:

Wet hands with clean running water

Apply soap

Rub hands together, making a lather for 20 seconds or more

Rinse under running water

Dry with clean towel or air dry

Don’t use a single damp cloth for a group

Don’t use standing water

Don’t use a common hand towel for drying

Don’t use sponges

Washing hands is the best way to remove germs, but when that is not possible, an alcohol-based sanitizer is effective.

Sanitizers do not work when hands are heavily soiled and do not eliminate all types of germs, Bauman said.

“Handwashing is preferable because sanitizer doesn’t work on naked viruses such as the cold virus,” Bauman said.

Handwashing is the first of many safety issues the committee wants to educate the AC community about, Chance said.


Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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