Autumn & Winter are the seasons bringing sounds of coughs, sneezes & sniffles. During Flu season, it’s especially important to keep our immune system strong & healthy. It’s also important to be informed about the health threats associated with germs and how to avoid getting sick this season! We’ve compiled a list of places (some less obvious than others!) where germs just love to hide and multiply in our everyday lives. Awareness is the first step in how you can help curb the spread of germs to prevent sickness for you and your loved ones.
Hands – Hands are the most prominent carrier of germs. Including germs that cause colds & flus but also staph, MRSA, the norovirus and more. The fact is, most bacteria need a few key things to survive and proliferate: moisture, warmth, and time. They especially love areas that are soft, porous, and at room temperature or higher.
Kitchen sponges/counters/sink – Your Kitchen sponge is a magnet for bacteria as the moisture is a breeding ground for a myriad of pathogens . The worst hot spots are the kitchen sink, kitchen sponge and kitchen counters. Use paper towels, instead of a sponge, to wipe your counters. Spray your sponges with bleach or disinfectant bleach alternative.Your commute – If you commute via bus or subway, you are six times more likely to get sick than if you walk or drive, simply because you are coming into contact with many more people and their germs. Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands just after exiting public transit.
Cell phones/Computers/Tablets – Cell phones are our constant companions; we take them to work, to the bathroom and many other public places. When we touch a surface of any kind that is contaminated with germs and pick up our phone, we have immediately increased our exposure. Wipe your phone; computer keypad and other frequently used electronic devices with an alcohol-free antiseptic wipe that is safe for your screen.
Car Steering Wheel/Gas pump/ATMs – Three places we find our hands on a daily basis that are very important to sanitize before and after use. Wiping down your steering wheel with an anti-bacterial wipe will cut down significantly on germ exposure and/or transfer. Having a wipe ready for the gas pump and ATM buttons is ideal.
Restaurants Menus – Would you be surprised to hear that menus often have more germs than the bathrooms! You probably have about a hundred times more bacteria on that menu than you do on a typical toilet seat in the restroom. Wash your hands thoroughly!
Shopping cart handles – Watch out for the collection of germs including E. coli bacteria on shopping cart handles. Germs from shoppers’ hands, diapers, and even raw meat they put in the cart.
Fabric grocery bags – Fabric grocery bags pose a higher risk, because they provide germs a direct route from the grocery store to your home. Always place reusable grocery bags on the floor rather than the kitchen counter while unloading. Wash your fabric grocery bags with hot water or bleach, or both.
TV remote controls – Bacteria and cold and flu viruses can survive up to several days on inanimate surfaces. So, you may be exposed to germs long after someone appears to be sick. Without thinking, you may then touch your hand to your eyes or nose and voila – you’ve spread those germs just by changing the channels!
Paper money – This one is pretty obvious. As it turns out, germs love money too!
Bathroom sink handles, doorknobs and light switches, cabinet handles, etc. – Studies find that these places are likely to become a petri dish of germs & viruses. Disinfect by washing or with cleansers after contact with any and all of these places.
Salt and pepper shakers & other public condiments – When is the last time you saw a restaurant employee wiping these down?
The Gym . Mix some heat, sweat and direct or indirect contact with lesions and secretions and you are instantly vulnerable to diseases like MRSA, athlete’s foot, boils, impetigo, herpes and ringworm. Lay a towel over all surfaces you touch, equipment or otherwise and always wear flip flops in the shower and stalls. Disinfect any chance you have here!
Perhaps the most important thing you can do you is hand washing! Lather your hands with soap with warm water. Wash your hands vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Since we cannot see germs with the naked eye, we often walk around collecting and transferring them cyclically throughout our daily lives. The awareness of where germs hide; understanding the negative effects germs can have on our health; and how to properly kill off these germs can be the determining factor between exposure to illnesses and optimal health. So grab your disinfectants and wipe or spray your chance of sickness away!