Common Misconceptions About the Flu VaccineOctober 12, 2018
How to Stop a Cold from SpreadingDecember 14, 2018
In this great big world of ours, germs are everywhere. Not exactly a comforting thought, is it? Although we cannot see them, we come in contact with countless germs each day. There are some places, however, that harbor more germs than others. Here are the top 13 places with the most germs.
- According to the CDC, 70% of public pools, 66% of water parks, and 49% of private club pools contain E. coli, bacteria most commonly found in feces. While chlorine is present in the pool, it doesn’t always kill germs in a quick manner; even so, some germs are more resistant to chlorine than others. As gross as it is to say it, many people urinate or even worse in pools. Therefore, it’s important for you not to swallow water, refrain from swimming if you have diarrhea, get out and use the restroom if you have to urinate, and shower before swimming. If you have children, remove them from the pool each hour to take a bathroom break and/or to check their diapers.
- It is hard to tell just how many people touched a restaurant menu before it ended up in your hands. In fact, it’s possible for menus to have more germs than a toilet seat. Bacteria that is transmitted from the hands to a menu can stay there for up to 48 hours, as many menus are only wiped once a day…and who knows if it’s with a clean cloth. Wash your hands after touching the menu before your food arrives.
- Lemon wedges. If you’re a fan of having a slice of lemon in your water or tea, you may change your mind after reading this. Lemon wedges in restaurants can harbor high levels of bacteria; 70% of restaurant lemons tested positive for 25 different germs and yeasts, including E. coli. While the majority of the germs were found on the rind, there were germs present on the pulp as well. It’s safer to skip out on the lemon if possible; if you absolutely must have it, order it on a separate dish and then squeeze it into your drink without placing the wedge into your glass.
- Water fountains. As a child, you may have used the public water fountain located at your school or church. These are breeding grounds for bacteria, as they are rarely cleaned as often as they should be. Bring your own water bottle with you.
- It may come as no surprise to learn that many people simply don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, which spreads bacteria to the doorknob as they’re exiting the restroom and entering another room. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water after using the restroom and before eating. It doesn’t hurt to apply some alcohol-based hand sanitizer either, although it shouldn’t take the place of soap and water.
- Store carts. When we go shopping, it’s easy to grab a cart and go. However, most shopping carts contain more germs than a public restroom. In fact, a handle on one shopping cart can house up to 11 million microorganisms. This can come from dirty diapers and runny noses as well if there were children present in the cart before you used it. Refrain from placing groceries, especially produce, on the top seat where children are typically seated. If the store has antibacterial wipes by the carts, use them; if not, keep your own with you.
- Elevator buttons. These are cleaned less frequently than public restrooms and come in contact with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of fingertips each day. The best option is to take the stairs; however, some may not physically be able to do so. In this case, try to press the buttons with your elbow or the tip of the pen. Or, use your fingertips but apply alcohol-based sanitizer before and after you push the button.
- While it is comforting to think about every hotel room being clean, that’s not always the case. In fact, the dirtiest object in a hotel room is most likely the television remote. Wipe off the remote with a disinfectant wipe before using. Other places germs like to hide in hotel rooms include lamp switches, phones, ice buckets, unwrapped drinking cups, hair dryers, bed sheets, pillows, comforters/blankets, coffee makers, and sink faucets. Clean all surfaces; as for sheets and comforters, you can request freshly laundered items if needed.
- Sandboxes can contain up to 36 times more germs than an average restaurant tray. This is because they are warm and moist, which is the perfect home for bacteria growth. Watch your child as they play in sandboxes to make sure they don’t stick their hands in their mouth. Keep alcohol-based sanitizer with you and apply to their hands as soon as they are done playing. Once you get home, have them wash their hands thoroughly.
- Card readers. So many of us in today’s world use credit and debit cards to make purchases. However, the buttons of the card readers and ATM machines that we use are covered in germs. While many are harmless, flu germs can stay on a dollar bill for up to 17 days. Keep hand sanitizer with you after handling money and using one of these machines, as well as wash your hands as soon as you can.
- The gym. This should make sense if you consider how many people share the equipment and fail to clean the equipment properly after using. Gym showers can also harbor germs, especially those that lead to athlete’s foot. Bacteria such as staph, strep, Norovirus, and MRSA can also be found in gyms. Wipe down each piece of equipment before and after using; most gyms should have antibacterial wipes nearby, but you can bring your own for peace of mind. Bring your own yoga mats and gym towels, as well as your own goggles and earplugs if you use the pool. Make sure all cuts and/or scrapes are covered and wear flip-flops in the locker room and shower.
- Gas pumps. According to a study conducted in 2011, gas pumps are some of the dirtiest surfaces in which we come into contact. In fact, more than 71% of pump handles contained bacteria and viruses. Use sanitizing wipes before and after pumping your gas, followed by applying alcohol-based sanitizer to your hands after use. If you prefer, you can keep a box of latex gloves in the glove compartment of your vehicle to wear while pumping gas.
- It may seem difficult to believe, but cell phones and office phones can harbor just as many germs as a toilet seat. This is because people don’t typically clean their phone screens, even though they have shared their phone with a friend, family member, or even a stranger. Invest in disposable screen protectors, as they come with microfiber cloths you can use to clean your screen. Sanitizing wipes aren’t used for phones, but you can purchase violet light sanitizers that are safe for technology. Also, washing your hands helps reduce the number of germs that come into contact with your phone.