A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Germiest Public Places

Weather.com had an article recently about germs in public places.  It is after all, that time of the year - flu season.  Okay, I'll get this out from the start:  I'm a germaphobe.  Well not in the strictest sense of the term, but I am ALWAYS aware.  Seven years ago I got sick.  It turned into pneumonia and my wife took me to the hospital, not once but twice.  I have never been so helpless in all my life.  My mother and grandmother both died from pneumonia.  Ever since that adventure, I am AWARE.

Here are some of the points brought out in the article.  None, except for one, were a surprise to me.

1. Grocery cart handles.  Yep, I always wipe the handle down.  My store has anti-bacterial wipes at the door as you walk in.  Thank you Safeway.

2. Table surfaces and condiment containers in restaurants.  The doctor they interviewed for the article said he doesn't go so far as to use a napkin to pick up the ketchup bottle or... well I do!  The article didn't mention your knife and fork sitting on the table surface when the waitress seats you.  Think about it.

3. Laundromats.  This is the one I had not considered but then I never go to a laundromat.  Those wet clothes of yours picked up bacteria from the previous loads coming from households you cannot imagine.

4. Public restrooms.  Rest assured, those faucet handles have many times more bacteria than the toilet seat.  I trigger the toilet lever with my knee or a slip of TP in hand.  When I leave, the paper towel is still in my hand when I pull on the door handle.  I then turn and go for a 3 point shot for the trash can. No paper towels?  Air blowers instead?  I use my shirt tail on the door handle.  And yes, I have stood there waiting for someone to come through the door and slip out once they pass.

5. Gas pump handles.  No surprise there.

6. Children's playgrounds.  Think about it.

7. Women's office desktops.  This one was surprising in the sense that women's measured worse than men.  Reason being was women had more contact with children and there is usually food items at women's workstations.  Office desk tops measured 400 times more bacteria than toilet seats.  This one made me think of this one lady at my bank.  She's always coughing and hacking and blowing her nose. Yep, she licks her finger to thumb the bills in her hand.  I stand clear of her.

8. The remote control.  There's nothing worth watching on television anyway.

9. Your underwear  (your underwear is a "public place"?).  The article mentioned underwear should be washed separately from the rest of your clothing.   Hey, just don't wear underwear. :))

10. Money.  Of course.

11. Electronic stores.  You like to go to Best Buy and play with the new computers, cameras, tablets and cellphones?  We all do.

12. Toy stores.  Kids play with all the toys and then your kid comes along behind them.

13. Door knobs, stair rails and I'll add on the rubber grip for the escalator.  Look at the people holding onto that escalator grip the next time you are at the department store.  Coughing, sneezing, wiping their nose, then put their hand back onto that rubber rail.  Here I'll confess to another quirk of mine. On push/pull doors going into a store, I always use the one on the left, going in the OUT door.  That handle on the other side of the OUT door gets significantly less usage than the designated entry door. Also my shirt tail or sleeve comes into action here again.

14. Airplane seats and restrooms.  Oh don't get me started on airplanes!  I don't fly anymore anyway.

This brings us to flu shots.  I don't get them.  There is a long list of viruses out there and they never know which one is going to be the main player for the upcoming season.  One shot does not cover all the virus possibilities.  So they make an educated guess as to which one it will be and make up vaccines for that one.  It's crap shoot.  My wife gets flu shots.  She's gotten sick in spite of doing so. I've not been sick once since that bout with pneumonia 7 years ago.   Besides, I'd have to go to Kaiser to get the shot and you think I want to be around all those sick people?  That's like being on an airplane!


s.c said...

Point taken.

biebkriebels said...

I have no problems with germs, never think about it and always put everything with my bare hands. I think the more you clean your hands the less resistant you become to germs. We don't have those handcleaners here in public places and everybody is still alive here.

trav4adventures said...

John, I agree with you 100%! I'm still teaching (8 year olds) and they sneeze, cough, have bloody noses, ALL OVER THE PLACE! OYE! One kid came in sneezing Monday. Now I have the sniffles. I make my own desk cleaner with essential oils: clove, lemon, tea tree. I add water and use a horse size spray bottle! I also go through Lysol wipes by the TON! I still get sick. One school year, I had pneumonia 3x. That was it...lung tissue damage. I got it again a few years later. Now, if I get a cold, it goes right into bronchitis. I cannot WAIT to retire in June!
~Cheryl Ann~ (I also make my own DIY wipes for public places)

trav4adventures said...

And, no, I don't get a flu shot either.

Unknown said...

I can’t help think that people are overly obsessive about germs in today’s society. People lived goodly long lives in the past and never even heard of antibacterials! And it often seems to me that the people most careful about using antibacterials and staying away from every germ possible end up having the worst health because they have effectively crippled their own immune system but not asking it to respond to normal, day-to-day germs.
Of course all of that is just one guy’s opinion and I have to say I have no one in my life with auto-immune sicknesses so I might just be all wet.
Then again I’m getting older and I’m willing to be my immune system won’t be as strong in 5 years as it is today so I better shut up and pay attention.
Thanks for the reference.

Unknown said...

It’s interesting that if I attempt to comment as a Wordpress user that Blogspot doesn’t want to publish the comment. I have to turn into a Google user. Interesting.

The Furry Gnome said...

Good advice!

Linda Kay said...

Okay, John....now I'm paranoid of going anywhere today! ;-)

TexWisGirl said...

laughing at your last point, but that's for sure! since we share work-stations with multiple phones, consoles, etc. we keep handi-wipes readily available and i try to wipe it down soon after the other person leaves (but not while they're still there.) :)

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Funny (and interesting) post. I'm afraid I don't think about germs nearly as much as I should. And I pay the price, with frequent colds!

genie said...

Your post just proves the way to live is either at home or out in the woods. Everything else....avoid at all costs.:-)

Pam said...

On the flip side, I don't give the topic much thought and only wash with water in public restrooms since I am allergic to most soaps. I do however use the paper towel to open the door since I already have one in hand. I seldom get sick though I've got a virus right now! Germs are everywhere, plenty of them airborne, and overwashing/sanitizing can lead to lack of antibodies that fight the germs. That being said I refused to kiss my husband last month when he had a bad virus! No sense in purposely sucking on the germs, right? ;)