Wouldn’t it be neat if at the end of four years of giving unsolicited opinions, sometimes in column form but most often via sarcastic “likes” on Facebook pictures, I wrote a column similar to the “Wear Sunscreen” article written by Mary Schmich in 1997? The one where she uses the merits of sunscreen to talk about larger life issues.
However, now that I’ve alerted you to its existence, I feel free to spend the next 500 words telling you why I never let you touch my T-zone and probably never will. Indeed, for all her worldliness in the fields of love, body image and most notably sun-poisoning protection, Schmich overlooked the omnipresent dangers of improper hand sanitation.
This year, the AU Student Health Center received over 14,000 visits, often addressing common conditions. Many of these common conditions could be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene, according to the nonprofit Henry the Hand. Dr. Will Sawyer, an infection prevention specialist, has developed Four Principles of Hand Awareness that could greatly decrease the number of poor souls who congregate in the Student Health Center.
Sawyer’s first recommendation is to wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating. Universities are disgusting places. While this statement is most obvious when partying/stealing food from the cabinets at frat houses, nowhere is safe. Not the gym (one of the many reasons I do not attend), not the dorms (which might as well be hospital wards) and certainly not the Petri dish that is TDR.
Recommendation numbers two and three go hand-in-hand: thou shalt not sneeze nor cough into your hands. In my opinion, people should cease coughing and sneezing all together, but if you must then Henry the Hand literature encourages to do so into your elbow.
And finally we get to the T-Zone. Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. These four body parts constitute the T-Zone, arguably a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it’s helpful in today’s modern society to be able to see, smell, taste, consume and speak. Missing more than three of these abilities will surely limit your functionality.
But the T-Zone is a curse in the sense that it is the gateway for germs into the body. Think of it as Ellis Island, which isn’t a completely xenophobic metaphor when you consider that given the proper procedures the Island welcomed necessary and constructive members of society, like the food that sustains us. But then America got careless, rubbed its sleepy eyes with its dirty little paws and now we’re stuck with the Irish.
My point, if it wasn’t clear (and I’m not sure how it could have been), is that the utmost vigilance and discipline is required when dealing with hand sanitation.
I learned proper hand sanitation in kindergarten; I haven’t practiced it since. Looking back on the last four years of what was and what could have been, I regret the tests I took when my head was congested with more than just Arabic vocabulary and the wild times I had to listen to whilst sipping my chicken noodle soup. Given how obvious the benefits of hand sanitation and the ease and convenience of not being disgusting, it is a wonder why we let it slip so often. Why let a preventable infection prevent you from using your T-Zone to its fullest potential?
Former Eagle Columnist