It’s that time of year again. Time for the winter cold and flu season. Unlike the flu which is typically bad in the winter months, germs are a problem all year long. Germs, viruses, and bacteria can be deadly to humans. In fact, new scientific evidence now links germs to cancer and heart disease. Two of the biggest killers of our population. According to WebMD, we all need to take steps to minimize our exposure to germs. Most of us are so busy in our daily lives, we are unaware of the germs all around us. So to be sure we are fighting germs, here are 8 tips to help stay germ free.
1) Avoid Hand Shakes… This probably has you thinking, that’s impossible! For some people, it is! But don’t do it if you don’t need to. During the winter flu and cold season, you should try to avoid kissing and shaking hands. Get in the practice of washing your hands frequently. Wash them with soap and warm water for at least (minimum) 15 to 20 seconds. Less than that will not be effective! Always do it after eating, a bathroom visit, coughing or sneezing, playing with pets or blowing your nose. A lot of people today are using anti-bacterial soaps. They are great for killing bacteria, however they kill the good bacteria as well. So don’t use those products every time, you need the good bacteria to help your body fight off the bad bacteria. An amazing fact about hand washing! Less than 70% of people wash their hands after using the bathroom. Only about one-third of those who wash their hands, bother to use soap. On top of that, not even 20% of them wash their hands long enough to remove the germs!
2) Don’t Touch… Avoid touching buttons when you can. Like a public phone, or a phone on another desk. Let someone else push the first floor button on the elevator (it’s pushed more than any other). You can always use your elbow! When you really think about it, in the course of only one day we touch hundreds if not thousands of things. Germs that cause viruses and bacteria are within our touch everywhere we go. It’s no wonder people get sick. I know it’s impossible to go through your day and not touch anything. But if you are more aware of the germ environment around us, it can help you avoid all the unnecessary instances. Again, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
3) Shopping Carts…When your doing the grocery shopping, wipe down the cart handle with an anti-bacterial wipe before touching it. Many of the super markets provide them in the cart area. Always carry them in your car. Take one with you in the store, if they don’t already have them. The person who used that cart before you could have been ill with the flu for all you know. Avoid putting fresh produce items in the seat area. That’s where children in diapers sit.
4) Avoid Handrails… If you don’t have to, don’t touch the handrails on the escalator. They are full of germs constantly. Same thing with other handrails, only if you need it for balance.
5) Disinfect Your Desk… The average office desk has more germs on it than a toilet seat. Believe it or not, it’s true! Between the phone, the desk and the keyboard, there are hundreds more bacteria than a toilet seat. Keep disinfectant wipes in your desk. Use them to kill the germs and bacteria. Wipe down your desk, and everything on it on a regular basis.
6) Bathroom Visits… When you go to the bathroom, always use the first stall. Most people use the ones in the middle. Because they get the most use, they get the most dirty. Don’t touch anything you don’t have to. Wash your hands after your done. Remember, soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
7) Office Coffee Pot… Most office Coffey pots and mugs are not cleaned properly. Often times they are cleaned with a germ filled sponge. If you use washable coffee mugs at your office, take your own mug to work with you. Wash it at home in the dishwasher. If you use throw-away cups, always grab one in the middle of the stack. Run a cycle of apple cider vinegar through the coffee machine weekly. That will help to eliminate bacteria.
8) Kitchen… Break room… Sinks whether bathroom or kitchen, sponges, dishcloths, counter tops, cutting boards and floors are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Once again more germ prone than the bathroom toilet! A great way to sterilize a sponge is to put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. A study at the University of Florida showed that microwaving a sponge for 2 minutes on full power killed more than 99% of bacteria, viruses and parasites, as well as spores.
Fighting germs, viruses and bacteria is a year round fight. By taking a few simple steps in the course of our day, we can greatly reduce our exposure to these germs. If these new studies are right, we won’t just be avoiding having to take more sick days, we may be able to live a longer healthier life!