So, in a bid to combat coronavirus, we’ve all been learning to wash our hands properly. There are plenty of videos online and we all now know that you need to sing ‘happy birthday’ through twice to reach the magical 20 seconds.
Why didn’t we know this before?!
To be honest, I’m feeling pretty smug right now, because I’ve always been a good hand washer. I wash my hands at all the usual times – after going to the toilet, before and after food preparation, before eating, after cleaning or handling the guinea pigs, plus less obvious times, like after touching door handles, cash machines and banisters outside of my own house. I wash my hands umpteen times a day. My family accuse me of being a germaphobe, but I’m OK with that. Because I don’t get ill.
Having watched the videos, it appears I was a strong eight out of 10 on my hand washing technique. There was just a little bit of the back of my left hand that I was missing. And if you’re going to miss anything, the back of your left hand (for a right handed person) is probably a pretty good bit to miss. I’m not eating with the back of my left hand.
But if the shops are anything to go by, it would appear that the rest of the world were pretty ignorant about washing their hands. Because clearly they had NO SOAP AT ALL at home. They weren’t just all being greedy and selfish and buying eight bottles for themselves, were they? (And don’t even get me started on the toilet rolls… )
I buy soap refill packs every few weeks when I need them. I was close to needing one just at the point when the world went mad. No refill packs for me. Nor any form of soap whatsoever. Luckily the bathroom soap in our house hadn’t been hit as hard as the kitchen soap, so we could squeeze a few more days out of it before I picked up two bottles in Sainsbury’s (not refills, but we have to let some of our principles slide when there’s a global health emergency). And, no I didn’t buy eight bottles, I just bought the two.
If you can’t combat coronavirus by washing your hands with soap and water, of course you should use hand sanitiser. IF YOU CAN FIND ANY ANYWHERE. The last known sighting of hand sanitiser in the shops was towards the end of February.
Luckily, as a germophobe, I’ve been buying hand sanitiser for many years. I have a tendency to buy more before I’ve finished the previous one. A quick search of my bag revealed six half finished bottles. There were a further two half finished bottles in my bedside drawer. Which was a flipping good job, seeing as my son was going on an aeroplane to Singapore. We managed to combine them to make up two full bottles for him. And I still have nearly a whole bottle in my bag. Result!
Coronavirus is clearly a big risk for the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. It won’t be a problem for me or my kids. But we all need to do our bit to protect those who are more vulnerable to it – not to mention the health service and the economy, which are going to be put under such huge pressure.
So if washing hands is what it takes, let’s all keep doing it. But if your soap supplies fall below 10 bottles, perhaps spare a thought for those less able (and less greedy) and don’t go and raid the shops again. We’re all in this together. We are washing our hands to protect our own families, but also to protect society as a whole.
And when coronavirus has finally passed us by, here’s a radical idea. KEEP WASHING YOUR HANDS. Because it can stop you getting colds, flu and stomach bugs too.
Don’t believe me? I’ve been a big hand washer all my life and, with the exception of a few colds, which don’t stop me doing anything, I have genuinely not been ill since 2009, when I had a fairly minor virus which laid me low for a couple of days.
It’s got to be worth a try, right?