How to Limit Your Contact With Germs When You’re Out in Public
Even when you least expect it, germs – bacteria, viruses, and all kinds of matter that can make you sick – are around. While most people are only worried about catching a cold or coming down with the flu during the fall and winter, you can fall sick at any time. Viruses are present all year round, meaning you could wind up feeling unwell and ill even during spring and summer.
And when you get sick, you have to miss work, spend time away from your family and friends, and recuperate from debilitating symptoms. But there are ways to reduce the amount of germs and illnesses you’re coming into contact with.
Each time you go out in public, you run the risk of catching a virus from someone else. Yet if you take the right precautions, you may be able to avoid germs and reduce your risk of getting sick. Here are a few ways you can limit your contact with germs when you’re out and about.
Visit Crowded Places During Off-Peak Hours
Germs and viruses can spread rapidly in crowds. After all, when you’re visiting a theme park, standing in line at the grocery store, or are attending a sporting event, you’re getting pretty close to a lot of strangers. And you don’t know how many of those people in close proximity to you might be sick.
To limit your contact with people who might be ill, it’s a good idea to avoid crowds and very crowded places. Instead, go to these normally crowded places during less popular times, or off-peak hours.
For example, grocery stores are often crowded on weekends with shoppers who are finally off work. During weekdays, older shoppers often visit in the morning. You can reduce the number of people you’ll come into contact with if you go during a less popular time. Try grocery shopping right before the store closes, or during odd hours like 2PM on a weekday.
Sanitize Surfaces Before Touching Them
The surfaces you touch while out in public are incredibly dirty and covered in germs. From public doors to shopping carts to gas station pumps, everything you touch has been touched by plenty of other people. And who knows how many of those people are carrying germs, bacteria, or viruses?
According to Business Insider, a recent study found that grocery store shopping carts can have 361 times more bacteria on their handles than your bathroom doorknob. Even worse, 80 percent of the bacteria found at an average grocery store is harmful and could potentially cause illnesses.
So, you need to be cautious about touching different surfaces and items when out in public. To limit your contact with germs, it’s a good idea to wipe things down with antiseptic wipes. For example, you should wipe down your shopping cart or basket. You can also use wipes to disinfect items in shared or public spaces like countertops, keyboards, or even door handles.
If you can’t sanitize every surface or item you come into contact with, you can use the next few steps to limit the transmission of any germs you do wind up touching.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Can’t wipe down surfaces? Can’t help touching things while you’re out and about? You’re not alone. It’s very difficult to remember to wipe down everything you’re about to touch, and it’s even more difficult to try to avoid touching objects and items while you’re in public.
However, if you simply can’t avoid touching things, there is another way to try to prevent getting sick. You just need to avoid touching your own face.
Touching your face is a key way germs like bacteria and viruses spread. It’s possible to get some types of illnesses by touching something that has the virus on it, then touching your own face. As ABC 12 News explains, touching a common item or object transfers germs onto your hands – and then, when you touch your face, the germs transfer right into your body.
And transferring germs from items to yourself happens more frequently than you’d expect. On average, we touch our faces 3.6 times per hour, and we touch public or shared items 3.3 times per hour. So, if you stop touching your face, you’ll reduce the number of germs you introduce into your body.
Wash Your Hands
The last – and most important – step that will reduce the number of germs that get introduced into your body is washing your hands. While washing your hands might sound like something obvious, not everyone realizes just how important it is.
Washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy and illness-free. The CDC reports that washing your hands correctly, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, can reduce your risk of respiratory illnesses by 16 to 21 percent.
Hand washing will eliminate all of the germs, bacteria, and viruses you come into contact with while you’re out and about in public. This simple act limits the spread of bacterial and viral illnesses and stops you from transferring germs to others.
Wash your hands each time you return from a public place. Make sure you’re washing with soap and water, and that you wash your hands well before touching your face.
Be Cautious to Stay Healthy Any Time of the Year
Regardless of what time of the year it is, you can take extra steps to keep yourself both safe and healthy. While you may not be able to completely avoid germs, bacteria, and viruses when you’re out in public, there are ways you can limit your exposure.
Follow the steps here to try to limit your contact with germs. One of the biggest keys in keeping yourself healthy is washing your hands. The more you can wash your hands and avoid touching your face, the better off you’ll be when it comes to accidentally transmitting germs right into your body.