- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Protect Yourself from Germs in Public
How to Protect Yourself from Germs in Public
You can defend yourself from germs at home and the office but what can you do to avoid those grievous germs in public? Not just any old germs but militant microbes and backbiting bacteria.
For example, how many germ-laden objects do you think you touch within 15 minutes when you go to your doctor’s office? Five? Ten? Twenty? I conducted my own rigorous, scientific, objective test the other day by assiduously counting every foreign (and domestic) object I touched within that time limit when I visited my doctor for a flu shot.
Here is the list of my actions and the items I touched:
1 – Received parking stub for car from parking attendant
2 – Opened door to doctor’s office building
3 – Pressed elevator button on lobby floor
4 – Held elevator door for person in wheelchair
5 – Pressed button inside for 4th floor
6 – Held elevator door for wheelchair person to exit on 3rd floor
7 – Opened door to doctor’s outer office
8 – Held office pen to sign in
9 – Held clipboard to keep it from falling off narrow ledge. It fell off anyway.
10 – Picked up
magazine from stack on table to read while waiting
11 - Opened door to doctor’s inner office
12 – Hugged three assorted assistants to doctor (had not seen them for six months)
13 – Held on to scale while being weighed (so I wouldn’t faint from the shock)
14 – Touched doorknob when entering examination room
15 – Picked up Kleenex box to extract tissue for incipient sneezes (I think I’m allergic to doctors)
16 – Hugged doctor when he entered (no, not what you think; he’s just a close friend)
17 – Opened inner office door when leaving
18 – Opened outer office door
19 – Pressed button for elevator on 4th floor
20 – Held maniacal elevator from swiftly closing on me on lobby floor
21 – Opened outer door of building
22 – Gave ransom of one dollar to parking attendant
23 – Received my key from parking attendant (car was parked nearby).
One doctor's office visit, fifteen minutes, and I had touched 23 germy surfaces crawling with invisible microbes. What should I have done to avoid that army of militant germs just waiting to attack? Here are my suggestions.
Palm a folded paper towel to use when you need to touch elevator buttons, door knobs or any other surface. Carry your own pen to use when signing in. Try to sit two chairs away from sneezing, coughing waiting patients if possible. Germ droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel in the air about three feet.
If waiting room is crowded, wait in hallway outside the office. If you want to read, bring your own reading material or use your smart phone to catch up on emails and messages. Carry a small vial of sanitizer to use on your hands when you can’t avoid touching grimy, germy surfaces.
There are other places where you need to be just as vigilant. How about that shopping cart in the supermarket? How many millions of germs are making the handle their home right now? Use a disinfectant wipe to wipe the handle before grabbing it (some stores are starting to provide them). If you don’t have a wipe handy, use that folded paper towel to push the cart.
How about public restrooms? They are teeming with militant microbes. Wash your hands with hot water rubbing vigorously for about 20 seconds. Do not count aloud. Do NOT use the soap dispenser. I hear you asking why? A recent University of Arizona study found that almost 25% of soap containers are contaminated with fecal bacteria. The containers are seldom cleaned so the soap scum builds up and feeds millions of bacteria.
How about the menus in restaurants? Should you wash yours? No, but do not let that menu touch your plate or silverware under any circumstances. Wash your hands with hot water – no soap – after you place your order. The Journal of Medical Virology has reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard services. Hordes of patrons have handled those menus and are passing their germs on to you.
One more caution. Condiments! It’s okay to use ketchup and mustard on your burgers in the restaurant. But few restaurants regularly clean the condiment containers. And most of us do not wash our hands before eating. So someone else’s grimy germs could be on your fingers – and your fries. Use your hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe or your handy paper towel before you grab it.
Don’t worry if others begin to see you as germophobic – you are simply being more careful and protecting your health. Trust me.
This last cartoon is your reward for reading this far. I just wanted to leave you with a smile on your face.
The real reason, Ms. Bossy, the cow I "interviewed" in "Everyone Should own a Goat or a Cow or a Pig" is driving me crazy. She wants a bovine item to appear on my every hub. I should have known she was going to be a problem.
© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"