By: Steve Dool

They walk among us, spreading germs onto ever surface they touch. It could be your best friend, it could be your boyfriend or it could be that stranger standing in front of you in line at the cafeteria.

I am not talking about a carrier of some strange disease or virus. I am talking about people who don’t wash their hands after using the washroom.

“You would be amazed at how many people don’t wash their hands after the washroom,” said Ottawa infection control nurse Donna Perrin. “I have actually been told to ‘F-off’ after telling someone to wash their hands.”

I invited Perrin to Algonquin College so we could have a talk about the importance of hand washing and so we could catch someone in the act and follow them around to see what they touched.

After standing in the washroom for about four minutes pretending to over-wash my hands, I witnessed the first culprit.

He entered a bathroom stall, did his business, flushed the toilet and walked right out of the washroom into the Market Place Food court.

The first thing he touched was the turnstile at the market place. “Now I want you to go through that way,” said Perrin. I declined and went through the other turnstile.

Then it was off to Luigi’s Pizza where this person ordered food but not before they leaned over and touched the glass partition and countertop.

Within a matter of minutes we counted at least 10 things this person came into contact with and that other people touched.

“Everything that person has touched is now contaminated,” said Perrin.

Oh well that is just one person right? Wrong. I spent nearly two hours in two different bathrooms at the college and witnessed 20 guys not wash their hands at all and 12 guys use only water.

After doing this little experiment my eyes were opened. An average of 1 in 5 guys didn’t wash their hands at all and that’s not including the ones that barely washed their hands.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s website, “Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.”

Washing your hands is not just about your health, it’s about the health of everyone around you.