8 Ways to Protect Yourself From Germs in Public Places
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope your week is off to a safe and great start. Dab the AIDS Bear and I are still dealing with a bad bug we have had since the beginning of the year.
Now we are not sure where we caught the bug. But chances are we caught it is a public space. So how do you avoid catching a bug when you are out in public? I decided to blog about this today.
On average, an adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers and remote controls.
At home, you do all you can to keep germs at bay. But what happens when you go out to dinner, do some grocery shopping or visit the doctor's office? If you know where germs are most likely to lurk, you can protect yourself.
Germiest Public Places
1. Restaurant Menus
Have you ever seen anyone wash a menu? Probably not. A study in the Journal of Medical Virology reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it is a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus — and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and be sure to wash your hands after you place your order.
2. Lemon Wedges
According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70 percent of the lemon wedges perched on the rims of restaurant glasses contain disease-causing microbes. When the researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, they found 25 different microorganisms lingering on the 76 lemons they secured, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria. Tell your server that you'd prefer your beverage sans fruit. Why risk it?
3. Condiment Dispensers
It is the rare eatery that regularly cleans its condiment containers. And the reality is that many people do not wash their hands before eating, says Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., a germs specialist and public health professor at the University of Arizona. So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fingers — and your fries. Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it.
4. Restroom Door Handles
Do not think you can escape the restroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up and use it to grasp the handle. Yes, other patrons may think you are a germ-phobe — but you will never see them again, and you are the one who will not get sick.
5. Soap Dispensers
About 25 percent of public restroom dispensers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. Soap that harbors bacteria may seem ironic, but that is exactly what a University of Arizona study found. Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grow as the soap scum builds up. And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there is a continuous culture feeding millions of bacteria. Be sure to scrub your hands thoroughly with plenty of hot water for 15 to 20 seconds — and if you happen to have an alcohol based hand sanitizer, use that, too.
6. Grocery Carts
The handles of almost two thirds of the shopping carts tested in a 2007 study at the University of Arizona were contaminated with fecal bacteria. In fact, the bacterial counts of the carts exceeded those of the average public restroom. To protect yourself: Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold (stores are starting to provide them, so look around for a dispenser). And while you are wheeling around the supermarket, skip the free food samples, which are nothing more than communal hand to germ to mouth zones.
7. Airplane Bathrooms
When microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D., tested for microbes in the bathrooms of commercial jets, he found surfaces from faucets to doorknobs to be contaminated with E. coli. It is not surprising, then, that people often get sick after traveling by plane. Clean your hands thoroughly with a sanitizer and try not to directly touch the surfaces.
8. Doctors' Offices
A doctor's office is not the place to be if you are trying to avoid germs. To limit your exposure: Bring your own books and magazines (and toys, if you have your children or grandchildren with you) and pack your own tissues and hand sanitizers, which should have an alcohol content of at least 60 percent. If possible, in the waiting room, leave at least two chairs between you and the other patients to reduce your chances of picking up their bugs. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel about 3 feet before falling to the floor.
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid getting a bad bug like I have. Hope you have a great Tuesday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,