Hand washing is one of the simplest and most powerful tools at our disposal, to prevent the spread of germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, proper hand washing is more important to public health than any single vaccine or medical treatment. Unfortunately, bacteria can't be seen with the naked eye, and as the old adage goes -- out of sight, out of mind. To help dramatize the importance of proper hygiene, many companies manufacture a "germ" lotion or powder that fluoresces under ultraviolet light. The glow light demonstrates how germs can survive inadequate hand washing.
Cover your students' or employees' hands with the fluorescent "germ" lotion or powder. This can be done openly, by asking them to rub it thoroughly over their hands, or stealthily by having them handle objects or food items that have been lightly dusted with the powder.
Lead one or more volunteers to the hand washing area, and have them wash and dry their hands as they normally would. Turn down the room lights and close the blinds, if necessary, to make a dark environment.
Shine the glow light on your volunteers' hands, paying special attention to their fingernails, nail beds, and the wrinkles on the backs of their hands.
Demonstrate proper hand washing technique by scrubbing your hands vigorously for a full 20 seconds, with hot water and lots of soap. Scrub under and around your nails -- using a nail brush, if one is available.
Ask your volunteers to wash again, following your example. A common suggestion for measuring 20 seconds' washing is to sing or hum "Happy Birthday" twice, from start to finish.
Illuminate your volunteers' hands once again, and point out the difference in cleanliness between casual and correct hand washing techniques.
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