KATIE FILION: Whistle while you work, and sing while you scrub

A few years ago while completing my undergraduate degree I designed a food safety presentation for grade 2 and 3 students at a local elementary school.  The demonstration used games and visual aids to evaluate the children’s knowledge of food safety in the home. The 2nd and 3rd graders knew more than I did when I was that young about food preparation and handwashing.

One of the elements of the presentation was demonstrating proper handwashing technique, and for how long to wash your hands. Like the article in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune, I suggested scrubbing to the tune of Happy Birthday.

If you want to stay healthy this winter while everyone around you is coming down with colds and flu, sing the birthday song while you wash your hands, and don’t stop scrubbing until you’ve finished the last "happy birthday to you."

It’s not the song that’s important. It’s the time it takes to sing it, or hum it to yourself while you lather and scrub. You could even go for a second chorus, washing all the while.

That’s the advice of doctors, nurses and others who work around sick people all the time.
Turns out some children don’t sing Happy Birthday any more, so we sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star instead.

I walked past the washroom before lunch break when leaving the school and was pleased to hear little voices singing Twinkle Twinkle, and sounds of the tap running. A few weeks later teachers of the grades 2 and 3 classes informed me the lesson had started the children talking with their families about the importance of food safety in the home.

Katie Filion is a soon-to-be graduate student at Kansas State University who currently resides in Doug and Amy’s basement.