It’s Flu Season!

Did you know? The most significant source of infection is from our hands! We touch our faces approximately 30 times every hour.

A simple fact: when someone coughs and covers their mouth, the germs spray travels 8 feet!

However, the most significant sources of germs are not necessarily airborne, but from items, we touch daily. The items listed below may shock you but are the dirtiest, most handled items we all touch daily. So, the best protection is washing your hands frequently, plus carrying and using hand sanitizer!

  • Restaurants: menus, ketchup, mustard, salt & pepper shakers! Think about how many people have touched them (in a day/week/month/year) after wiping their mouth, shaking someone’s hand, going to the bathroom, blowing their nose, sneezing, covering their mouths when they cough!
  • Bathrooms: doorknobs, toilet and faucet handles, soap and paper towel dispensers, hand dryers. What have people entering a restroom touched before the doorknob? We all know what we do before flushing. We touch the soap dispenser and faucet handles that have been touched by countless people’s dirty, germ-infested hands! After washing and cleaning our hands, we turn off the contaminated faucet and touch the dirty doorknob!
  • Women’s purses are actually dirtier than all of the above! We frequently place them on the floor! Think about floors! Dirty floors in restaurants from shoes, food, and critters. All the foot traffic carries germs from dirty streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and grass (where our four-legged friend loves to ….). We place them in shopping carts-which are so dirty that most stores provide germicidal wipes. We open and close our purses all day long, even after getting a tissue to blow our nose. Then when we go home, we put them on our counters or tables!
  • Money: whether paper or coins, money starts in Washington and comes into contact with many dirty hands and sometimes other body parts on its way to Florida!

So how do you avoid the flu? Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Avoid crowds, and people that you know are sick.
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer
  • Use a napkin, toilet paper, or your foot to flush
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the faucets and open the restroom door
  • Whenever possible, use your elbow: to push open doors, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow instead of your hand
  • Use a cocktail napkin at restaurants to handle condiments
  • Use hand sanitizer after handling menus, condiments, and purse hangers.
  • FOLLOW CDC GUIDELINES: get the flu vaccine, avoid touching your face, disinfect home surfaces regularly, and call your doctor immediately if you think you have the flu to get anti-viral medication started ASAP!

Be safe and healthy this flu season!

–Lisa Hersch, R.N.