Do you want to know what’s really disgusting? Everything. Germs are everywhere, lurking on almost everything that we touch. Some of the germiest places on earth are places that you regularly frequent. Learning how to protect yourself against contaminated surfaces may be your best defense to staying well.
You may be meticulous about covering a public toilet seat with toilet paper, but it turns out that there are bigger germ-harboring culprits in a bathroom. The stall door and the faucet handles are great places for E. coli and Enterococcus bacteria to thrive. To keep your hands away from these surfaces, use a paper towel or a grab hook with rubber tip to open and close doors or turn faucets off and on. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and then don’t touch anything else once they are clean.
Undercooked or raw foods can cause food poisoning from Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter bacteria. Couple that with a server who didn’t observe the “employees must wash hands” sign in the bathroom before carrying your plate to the table. Your best defense is to order food well-cooked and to observe employee behavior and general restaurant cleanliness. Do tables get cleaned with a cursory wipe or do employees strive to really sanitize between patrons? Chances are if high standards of cleanliness are company policy, your food will be okay.
If your receptionist keeps a candy jar at her desk, that’s sweet, but avoid it at all costs. There is no telling what the last person touched before he put his hands into that bowl. Bacteria that cause common illness such as strep or the flu don’t need to linger too long on the surface of an individually wrapped peppermint if the guy with the runny nose grabs one right before you. It’s safest to keep your own stash of candy at your desk. If you must have a candy, sanitize your hands before and after unwrapping your Jolly Rancher.
There is no way to stay 100% germ free, but there are several ways to cut down on the instances of germ exposure. Keep your hands clean, or in your pockets and away from your face as much as possible.