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Mast-Head: Grandma's Advice

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 11:24

My grandmother on my father’s side told me to always wash my hands — and I have tried to as often as possible ever since. As someone who lived through the terrible flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919, she had good reason to remain vigilant and see to it that her grandchildren learned to do it, too.

Grandparents’ advice is almost always good advice. My grandfather on my father’s side insisted that it was important to always wear a hat outside. To this day, I always try to. In fact, I have a hat on right now as I write this. Helps keep me focused.

Among my favorite memories of my children when they were small is that the preschool my eldest attended had a rule that each child had to wash his or her hands immediately on arrival in the morning. I would stand over Adelia’s shoulder at the painfully cute low sink, and take hold of each of her wrists to waggle them together with water and soap. To this day, when she is excited about something, she rubs her hands together in a way that reminds me of these sweet moments.

Between hand-washings and wiping everything in sight down with bleach solution, I have been swabbing on hand-sanitizer. Sometimes it is from the few bottles we were able to get at the drug store; other times, it’s a batch I made  out of aloe juice and 192-proof grain alcohol.

News reports were dire about a week or two ago after the World Health Organization warned against homebrew sanitizer. However, anyone able to follow a recipe to make, say, a cake, and who can get the right ingredients, can do it. The essential thing is to be absolutely certain that the alcohol content of the finished product stays above 60 percent. Using metric measures makes it straightforward, for example, 100 ml of 192-proof alcohol to 30 ml of aloe. I used a medicine syringe to make sure I was getting it right. Then I added a few drops of an essential oil for fragrance.

But there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned hand washing. Even with a skeleton staff at the office and only family at home, being careful is well worth the cracking skin around the knuckles.


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