The flu was here. Just now.

flu bathroom sign

Just in case you weren't already headed for the sink.

This sign -- which was posted in a bathroom in a state office building in downtown Albany -- made its way to us recently. The somewhat-ominous tone of the message caught our attention. You know, it's almost like it's saying: The Flu! It was here right before you! Lookout!

You might not think it would be necessary to remind people to wash their hands in a bathroom. Alas, that's not the case. A observational survey a few years back reported that 75 percent -- and only 66 percent of men -- washed their hands after using a public restroom. Other studies have reported even lower rates.

There's some evidence that signs like this one do get more people to wash up. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers in London reported that people were more likely to use soap and water when signs put their actions in some sort of social context -- especially if people got the impression that others were watching.

By the way: Google Flu trends reports that flu activity in New York State is already high and still rising. So, uh... wash your hands.

If you need some encouragement, there's a rather enthusiastic handwashing dance from Japan embedded after the jump.

(Thanks, Anonymous)


not that I don't appreciate the hand-washing message, but so people actually tough the flusher things in public restrooms? gross. I was always taught to use my foot.

Just this morning I was witness (sort of) to a co-worker using the stall and then skipping out before performing the requisite ablutions. I'm sure she thought she could not be identified or she might have made a show of better hygiene. I won't be shaking her hand any time soon.

to lk: I tried using my foot to flush the urinal and fell backwards out of the stall and right into some guy who didn't wash his hands. Thanks for the bad advice.

A Marine and a Navy guy are in a latrine side by side taking a leak.

The Navy guy notices that the Marine is starting to walk out without washing his hands, and says: "In the Navy, we are taught to wash our hands after urinating."

The Marine says: "In the Marines, we are taught not to pee on our fingers."

What's the point of washing hands if I have to touch a faucet (to turn off water) and a door knob?

Lu, easiest solution: turn the faucet and open the door with the paper towel you dried your hands with. Some places don't offer towels, or they place the waste basket far from the door, so flu season might be a good time to bring it up with management that they can't afford to be having employees out sick.

Recently at a local restaurant, I noticed all the wait staff had spoons in their jacket pocket. I asked our waiter - he said a quality improvement team had come in and advised waiters to carry a spoon in their pocket as this was the most frequently dropped utensil - they could save time having it ready.

All the male wait staff also had a tiny string coming out of the zippers on their pants. I asked our waiter about it - he said that the quality improvement team said that male waiters could save time by using the string to pull out their penis, thereby eliminating the need to wash their hands after urinating.

I asked how he got his penis back in his pants, and he said that he used the spoon in his jacket pocket.

The designers of public restrooms should rethink the whole design. The door leading in and out of the restroom should swing so that you can wash your hands and just push open the door with your body and not have to use your (clean) hands to turn a filthy knob.

All rest rooms, public and private, should be required to have paper towels available at least as an option. Blowing air on your hands after using the facility and having to finish drying them on your jacket or pants should not be an option especially during this flu season.

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