How to Protect Yourself from Germs in Public

Avian influenza, SARS, swine flu and the super flu are just some of the illnesses that instill fear in people who go out in public. In most cases, it is relatively difficult to contract any sort of illness from germs in public places. One would have to have an already compromised immune system, or they would have to be exposed to large doses of the germ in order to contract the disease. Rather than getting SARS or the superflu, you are more likely to get streptococcus, E. coli, staphylococcus, hepatitis A, shigella bacteria and the common cold virus from public objects and places. Despite the risk of contracting these germs from public places and objects, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself, provided you're not already immunocompromised or sick. Here's how to protect yourself from germs in public.


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    Wash your hands.
    • Properly washing your hands is the best defense against contracting any germs from public places or objects. The correct method of washing your hands begins by wetting them with water and then lathering them with soap, both front and back. Then rinse your hands under warm running water for at least 20 seconds. The friction from the washing process will rinse away any germs. Dry your hands under a hot air dyer or with disposable paper towels, then use the same paper towel to turn off the water and to open the bathroom door, in order to avoid recontamination.
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    Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nostrils.
    • Germs need to get into your body to wreak havoc. Therefore, avoid touching your eyes, nostrils or mouth after you've been touching objects in public places. That way any germs that are on your hands won't be transmitted into your body.
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    Flush and run.
    • According to experts, you're more likely to come in contact with fecal germs after flushing the toilet than you are from sitting on one. The mist or spray that rises from the toilet after flushing can carry harmful germs that may land on you. If possible, choose public toilets with automatic flush sensors to flush after you're already away from the toilet, or flush and leave the stall quickly. If you must flush the toilet, do so with your shoe and not your hand for extra protection.
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    Get vaccinated.
    • Each year the flu strikes millions of people, moving quickly from person to person. A cough, sneeze or even talking can spread flu germs. The best prevention from contracting the flu virus while in public is by getting vaccinated.
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    Wear shoes in public places.
    • As inviting as it may seem to kick off your sandals while at the public pool, athlete's foot, ringworm and warts can all be contracted by walking on surfaces that have traces of these germs on them. Chlorine will kill these germs, so you're safe inside the pool, just not on the deck.
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    Avoid getting bitten.
    • Wear proper insect protection when going into wooded areas or areas where there might be mosquitoes, ticks or other biting insects. Insects can carry and transmit disease, and so can animals. Don't touch or go near wild animals, and if you are bitten by a wild animal seek medical attention immediately.
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    Choose your food carefully.
    • Improperly handled food can carry germs that can make you very ill. From cross-contamination of raw meat to cooked, to improper holding temperatures, there is a variety of ways germs can be transmitted through food. In order to safely kill off any bacteria, poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degree C), ground meats to 155 degrees F (68 degrees C), pork and beef to 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), and fish to 145 degrees F (63 degrees C.) The correct temperature must be reached and maintained for at least 15 seconds to kill off any bacteria.
    • Food that is being held for service, such as at a buffet, should be kept for no more than 4 hours. Hot food must be kept at 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) or higher, and cold foods must be kept at 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) or colder.
    • Perishable food such as butter, cheese and baked goods should not be kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the ambient temperature is over 90 degrees F (32 degrees C.)
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    Use hand sanitizer.
    • An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used if there are no proper hand washing facilities available. Apply an adequate amount of sanitizer to cover your hands and rub them, spreading the sanitizer over the front and back of your hands and wrists.


  • If you are sick, stay home. The best way to prevent getting somebody else sick is you not spreading your germs.
  • If you do suspect that you've become ill from contracting germs from public places, contact your doctor.

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Categories: Health Hygiene