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ABC57 Investigates: The hand test

ABC57 Investigates: The hand test

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- ABC57 put your hands to the test—investigating everything you touch to find out how dirty our hands really get during normal daily activities and how far those germs can spread.

“It’s very easy for germs to spread and that’s why you want to be very conscious of what you’re doing with your hands,” Emily Plenus said, Quality Systems Manager, South Bend Medical Foundation.

“Wash your hands” is likely one of the most common phrases we hear every day.

To test how important the proper handwashing technique can be, ABC57 used a solution called “Glo Germ” to simulate germs and a black light to show how dirty your hands can get.

Nothing captures a person’s attention like cold hard cash, except maybe one other thing—germs. 

From grocery stores to gas stations and everywhere in between, it is the one common problem we cannot seem to wash off.

“Everything you touch leaves a mark,” Plenus said.

Emily Plenus would know—she is the handwashing expert at the South Bend Medical Foundation and more importantly, a mother to young children.

“I am a mother,” Plenus said.

Since mom’s know best, Emily seemed like the perfect person to help out with an experiment.

Using the “Glo Germ” solution, a black light and Emily’s knowledge, ABC57 put a handful of daily situations to the test.

The first experiment is working from home. To start, we covered the door handle with the solution to see how it could easily transfer to different surfaces.

ABC57’s Brenda Koopsen shut the door with clean hands, turned both light switches on, pulled out a chair and picked up the phone.

With the lights out, using a black light, those steps could clearly be retraced.

“You saw how easily we could trace your path through the room from the door handle to the light switch to the chair to the phone,” Plenus said. “So that’s contact that’s happening every day with everything that you come in contact with.”

For the next experiment, ABC57’s Brenda Koopsen spread “Glo Germ” on her hands, counted out cash and handed it over to Emily.

The black light showed how clearly the germs transferred over to the cash and onto Emily’s hands just from accepting the bills.

The CDC now recommends that everyone wear a mask out in public, but wearing a mask does not necessarily mean a person is protected.

“When you’re wearing a mask, you’re naturally going to—as much as you don’t want to—you’re going to start touching your face, you’re going to adjust your mask,” Plenus said. 

Using “Glo Germ”, ABC57’s Brenda Koopsen did just that—adjusting the mask just like someone might do throughout the day.

“You can see where we touched on my nose,” Koopsen said.

“You can see all the places you touched and then even if we look up here,” Plenus said. “The little bit that you had that mask on, the little bit that you touched it, you know, the contact is very clear.”

This is not just a common sense experiment, but the new reality people throughout the country live in every day.

The only way to fight these germs is to keep your hands clean and when it comes to clean hands, timing is everything.

Emily spread the solution all over her hands and started the timer to test how effective washing your hands for 10 seconds is.

With the lights off and the black light on, 10 seconds did not do the trick.

Then, Emily tested out the proper handwashing technique for the full 20 seconds recommended by the CDC.

After 20 seconds, the germs were almost nowhere to be found.

“By doing that 20 seconds and doing the proper technique, you’re making sure that you’re getting all of those little bits and pieces that you may not think of whenever you’re washing your hands,” Plenus said. “You’re never going to be 100%. That’s just, that’s the nature of the world. So, do your best to, to think about what it is you’re coming in contact with. And what you can do to minimize that contact not just with yourself, but for others.”

Plenus said that often times the way we could spread germs is just a natural reaction, such as sweeping hair out of your face, but being cautious and following the right steps, you can do everything you can to keep yourself—and those around you, safe.

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