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Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: Public Toilets Can Kill

Updated on April 29, 2009

In a pandemic situation great attention should be placed on avoiding the risk of H1N1 viral infection in schools, offices, public transportation and bathrooms: The places that are at very high risk.

H1N1 can be present not only on public toilet seats but it may also be found on surfaces within the stall, on the toilet paper (especially if it's moist, which creates a nurturing environment for the health of the virus) and on the floor. In fact, H1N1 can be transmitted on virtually all bathroom surfaces.

It's a good idea to keep these tips in mind:

  • Don't use a toilet that looks dirty or wet, or one that has not been flushed. If they're available, use a paper seat cover.
  • There is always the option to not sit right down on a toilet seat. Try squatting without touching the seat.
  • To avoid germs on the toilet's flush handle always use a piece of toilet paper to flush. I usually flush the toilet with my foot!
  • Don't use toilet paper that's wet or looks like it has been wetted.
  • Don't use toilet paper that's anywhere but on the roll fixture. Rolls sitting on the shelf or on top of the toilet may have been on the floor.
  • The cleanest toilet paper is the one you bring with you. Failing that, the best are the type that is almost totally encased in a plastic or metal container protecting it from spray and splatter. If you have to use paper from less protected rolls, tear off the exposed paper and dispose of it.
  • Avoid touching the soapscum that accumulates in a soap dish or on the sink. If there is nothing but a bar soap, use it anyway, but rinse off the bar very well before using it. It's definitely better to wash with bar soap than not to wash at all.
  • Lather longer than you would with liquid soaps which are the best ones to use. The friction of handwashing will remove many of the germs from bar soap. Granular soaps require even longer handwashing as they generally don't lather as much.
  • If there's no soap, rinse hands in hot water and rub your hands together as you do it. This helps rinse away contamination, but it's still no substitute for a good soapy wash!
  • You should spend at least fifteen to twenty seconds washing your hands. A good rule of thumb is to hum the "Happy Birthday" song twice. That's about the right minimum amount of time to rub your hands.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth until you wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Keep a bottle of alcohol hand sanitizer with you at all times. It's by far the best option!
  • Don't touch anything directly. Remember that only 15 percent of all people even bother wash their hands after they are finished using a public toilet! Yuck!

You should also avoid using hot-air-dryers. They claim that they are sanitary alternatives to paper towels, but the only reason they are installed is because they are a cheaper alternative for the building management than the cost of buying, refilling and disposing of a mountain of paper towels. The reasons why most of these hot-air dryers are unsanitary is that pull their air but from the floor of the bathroom which is usually teeming with germs. Furthermore, most people don't stand there long enough to dry their hands thoroughly with the dryer, which can cause chapping, cracking and, hence, more chance of picking up an infection. Use a hot-air dryer only if you have absolutely no alternative. Or use toilet paper or your emergency supply of tissues.

Public bathrooms are definitely the place where you will confront the most concentrated sampling of germs, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination the only one. And wherever people are or have been, they have left their H1N1 behind.

Continued in:
Stay Safe From The H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu: What Can The Government Do?

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