The simplest lessons are the most important.

One of my favorite books has always been, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” by Robert Fulghum. I love it because it reminds me that some of life’s simplest lessons are the most important:

  • Play fair.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Wash your hands.

All of these guidelines are especially fitting right now, but none more so than the last.  Every day a new article or video is posted about how important it is to wash your hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – how long to wash, how often to wash, how to make sure to get in between your fingers, etc. My colleague Sara Jones published a great post earlier this week about the science behind why it’s so important to wash your hands.

Using warm water to wash your hands makes a difference.

One aspect of washing that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is the importance of using warm water.  But, why does water temperature matter?  If you were to make the water hot enough to kill germs (212°F), it would burn your hands, so needless to say please don’t do that! Then, why does it matter whether the water is warm or cold?

I did some research and found that the warmer the water, the more the soap will bubble.  This increases the surface area of the cleanser, so that means there’s more cleanser being exposed to your skin during the washing process.

And, in the spirit of helping my many friends and colleagues who are struggling to find fun activities that will entertain and educate their kids while they maintain a work-life balance, I’ve included a quick experiment they can do to demonstrate why temperature matters. It’s included at the end of this post.

I’m grateful for utilities making sure we have warm, clean water.

But if it weren’t for utilities giving us the gas or power that we need to heat water in our homes, the experiment and the germ fighting wouldn’t be possible. 

So, as we celebrate the many people who are risking their health while working to keep us safe, healthy and fed, I’d also like to thank our gas, water and power utility employees who are keeping the power plants running, keeping gas lines safe and keeping the clean water flowing so that we have warm water to keep us from getting sick.

I hope that you’ll join me, my rescue pup Sage and my colleagues and #ThankYourUtility by creating a picture or video to let them know you appreciate what they do, not just during this crisis, but every day! Click here to see how.

Kid-Friendly Experiment

Does Hot or Cold Water Produce More Bubbles?

What you’ll need:

2 clear bottles or jars with lids – mayonnaise jars, peanut butter jars or soda bottles work just fine

1 microwave-safe measuring cup

1 cup of water

½ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid

Directions:

  1. Wash out the bottles, making sure there’s no food or drink left inside and remove any labels from the jars so you can easily see through the bottle
  2. Measure ½ cup of cold tap water and pour it into the first bottle
  3. Using the microwave-safe measuring cup, measure ½ cup of cold tap water and place the measuring cup in the microwave. Heat it for 45 seconds. Be careful – the water will be very warm.
  4. Pour the warm water into the second bottle
  5. Add ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the first bottle, place the lid on the jar and tighten it
  6. Add ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the second bottle, place the lid on the jar and tighten it
  7. Hold the cold bottle in your right hand and warm bottle in your left hand.  Shake them up and down 10 times.
  8. Compare which bottle has more bubbles