On a visit to Mamaroneck Avenue School in White Plains I ran into some employees of the county Health Department. Children are always surprised to see how much dirt they leave behind when their freshly washed hands are put under a black light to expose all the fake “germs’’ they’ve missed, said Caren Halbfinger, Health Department spokesperson. They then pay close attention when health educators teach them the right way to wash hands – by soaping up thoroughly for 20 seconds — long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice – and then washing with warm water, she said.
First-graders, from left, Arly Cortes and Christina Cortes wash their hands in class following a demonstration on proper hand washing by the Westchester County Health Department. Employees of the county Health Department were visiting the schools to teach children ways to prevent the spread of germs through proper hand washing. They used a special non-toxic lotion on their hands, that when applied, simulates germs and would glow when observed under a blacklight. Then the children would wash their hands with soap and water and recheck themselves, using the blacklight, to see if they properly washed away the simulated germ lotion they applied. All the children received a certificate of completion of the lesson. Halbfinger said the department’s hand washing presentations have always been popular with local elementary and middle schools, and now, since the advent of H1N1, are even more so.