If dozens of people share the same public restroom, store or other public building, your kids’ exposure to germs and bacteria increases exponentially. This can increase their risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, which can spread to the entire family. Here’s what your children should know about keeping germs and bacteria at bay when in public places:
* Use sanitation paper, if provided, or strips of toilet paper to avoid direct contact with the toilet seat.
* If the toilet has a lid, put it down before flushing. University of Arizona environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba published a study showing how a toilet spreads aerosolized water droplets on surfaces up to a few feet away when flushed. If there’s no lid, just flush and leave the stall. Studies show that most of the droplets are spread not during the initial flush but after most of the water has left the bowl.
* Always wash your hands after using the toilet or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Also wash hands before eating and after touching animals.
* Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, according to the Mayo Clinic. Using one of the soap dispensers, lather up your hands, and scrub vigorously. Clean all parts of your hands, including the backs and between your fingers. Germs and bacteria like to hide underneath fingernails, so clean them well, too.
* Rinse your hands well.
* If possible, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet if it doesn’t turn off automatically. Otherwise, use the back of your wrist.
* If available, use one of the hand dryers to dry your hands. If more than one type is available, choose the automatic style. Otherwise, push the dryer button with a paper towel or the back of your hand, not the palm, to avoid picking up the germs and bacteria of everyone else that’s used the hand dryer. Hand dryers are also better for the environment since they save large quantities of paper towels being used to blot wet hands.
* If soap and water aren’t available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are acceptable substitutes. Make sure you choose a product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Use enough to wet your hands thoroughly, rubbing it over all parts of your hand, just as if you were using soap and water.
* Antimicrobial wipes are another alternative to keep handy, as long as they have a high-alcohol content.
Ben Hodge is a writer for HandryersUK specialising in thought provoking articles to gain public awareness in regards to personal hygiene.