The “Clean Getaway Campaign”
“Any public restroom with sufficient privacy (stalls or no line of sight to the outside) should be able to be exited without patrons having to put their hands on a public surface.”
That’s my suggestion for a public health campaign.
I wouldn’t make it a law, just a recommendation.
Look, I wash my hands pretty carefully. I used to be a banker, and we handle a lot of money…which is a big germ bearer, I’m told. We were given advice then on how to reduce the chances of catching colds and other illnesses from our customers.
Now, I work with medical folks, and I’ve learned how to wash my hands. I literally counted thirty seconds when I’m washing my hands in a public bathroom. I wash all the surfaces: palms, backs, between the fingers…I even move my ring so I can wash under it. I make a big effort not to touch my face without washing my hands first (I’ve seen studies that suggest that is one of the best things you can do…not how often you wash your hands, but washing your hands before touching your face).
Here’s the problem, though.
I wash my hands in a public bathroom. I go to exit that room…and I’m expected grab the doorknob and turn it to leave.
With my clean hand.
When other people don’t wash their hands before leaving consistently…or well…or ever…
What I normally do is use a paper towel to turn the knob, which I then throw out.
Some bathrooms now even have a garbage can there, and seem to suggest using the paper towel to open the door for health reasons.
Well, that kind of seems like a waste, even though I used the towel to dry my hands already.
Here’s the kicker, though: many bathrooms don’t have paper towels any more. They have air dryers…for sanitary (and ecological) reasons.
In that case, I try to get out using an elbow, or a security card, or a piece of clothing or something.
Why an elbow? You can’t physically touch your face with your elbow…go ahead, try. 🙂
I’d be fine with a door against which I could lean to leave. There could be a fancy “step on it” button (although a waste of electricity for many people). I’m actually fine with no door, assuming there is sufficient privacy, as I’ve suggested in the paragraph at the top of this post.
My guess is that this would make a big difference in flu transmission, and it would quite inexpensive. I’d be happy to have studies done, but I don’t see a negative in trying it. Okay, yes, you couldn’t lock yourself inside the bathroom if…um…you were being pursued by spies or zombies or killer robots. ;)
It obviously wouldn’t apply to those little restaurants that have a bathroom just ike the one in your house…they don’t have sufficient privacy.
So, make sense? Feel free to pass this along to your state governments or the federal government, or wherever you think it might help.
See a problem with it? I’d appreciate you leaving me a comment and letting me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.