Don't Make These Germ-Filled Mistakes

Are you doing all you can to avoid the spread of germs? Follow these common sense rules and tips to protect yourself from making the most bacteria-filled mistakes while out on the town.

  • Mistake # 1: Don't sneeze into your own hands and then touch something others will touch. Instead, cover your nose and mouth with the inside of your elbow.
  • Mistake # 2:  Don't skip washing your hands after you use the bathroom, blow your nose, or do anything that could spread your germs to someone else.
  • Mistake # 3: Don't doubt that others are sneezing into their hands and not washing properly.  

What are some of the biggest bacteria hotspots?

Coffee Shops: The barista who hands you your morning cup of coffee probably washes her hands frequently, but once you hit the cream and sugar counter, you're at risk for picking up the germs of the last person who touched it.

Use a napkin when you grab the cream and sugar.

Banks: That quick stop for cash may be the source of your next cold, flu, or bout of diarrhea. Think about all the germy fingers that touch the ATM keypad or pen on the counter.

Swipe the keypad with a disinfecting wipe, carry your own pen, and use a hand sanitizer after you get your money or receipt.

Public Restrooms:  Don't worry about the toilet seat. The real germ magnet is the sink tap, handles, and soap dispenser that people touch after going to the bathroom. If the sink and soap operate with a hands-free sensor, you're in luck.

If not, use a paper towel to grab the handles or soap dispenser. After you've washed, use that same paper towel to get another clean towel.  Use that one to dry your hands and open the bathroom door.

Offices: Computers, desktops, and telephones (especially shared ones) can be contaminated with viruses, e-coli, and other fecal bacteria (from coworkers who don't have the excellent hygiene skills you do) and bacteria from yesterday's chicken sandwich.

Wipe down your office equipment daily with an alcohol-based sanitizer or cleaning product.  If anyone in the office is sick, ask him not to use your phone or keyboard, and be sure to wash your hands frequently.

High Chairs in Restaurants: Children are especially vulnerable to colds and infections because their immune systems aren't fully matured. The high chair tray and seat might have germs from the last child who sat there

Wipe down the chair and tray with a sanitizing wipe, and wash your child's hands before she eats.

Public Changing Tables: Protect your child and yourself from germs left by the last child changed there by avoiding them whenever possible.

If a diaper change is mandatory, lay down a protective layer between your child and the table surface, like your own changing pad, (which you'll wash after it touches the table), or a thick layer of paper towels. Wipe down the changing pad after you use it, and be sure to wash your hands.

Playground: Open sandboxes are magnets for neighborhood cats, raccoons, and other animals looking for a public restroom.

Avoid letting your child play in public sandboxes, but if that's not possible, give it a thorough visual inspection, wash your child's hands after play, and give her a good bath as soon as possible after they get home.

Shopping Centers:Countless people touch the grocery carts, escalator handles, sample stations, and checkout areas every day.

Avoid putting your fingers where others have been, don't touch your own face, mouth, or eyes, and wash your hands as soon as possible after shopping.