When using a public rest room have you ever flushed the toilet using your feet or maybe used a paper towel to avoid touching a restroom door handle? We'll you are not alone.
These germ avoidance 'life hacks'
are becoming increasingly popular to stay healthy and reduce the spread of infectious diseases - especially during flu season.
According to a recent healthy hand washing survey, the following are popular "actions taken in public restrooms to avoid touching anything."
- 57% use feet to flush toilets
- 55% use paper towels to open doors
- 45% open doors with hips
- 69% use elbows to avoid all contact
It seems public awareness about the importance of infection prevention is up, with more than a quarter of all people surveyed (28%) saying they are more concerned about getting sick with the flu than they were last year.
The good news is that 92% of people believe it's important to wash their hands after using a public restroom.
The bad news, according to the study, 66% of people admit they often skip the soap after using the washroom and simply rinse hands with water. Even worse, 46% of men reported seeing their colleagues skip hand washing completely, and 32% of women reported the same.
Now let's consider our workplace, where avoiding germs is not at all an easy feat. Enclosed environments, where susceptible people reside and are working or interacting closely with one another, are at a higher risk for the spread of germs, especially during flu season.
In Canada for example, up to 7.5 million people will get the flu and become sick every year. According to the CDC, the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses is to get your flu shot. Even though it's readily available, 60% of the population is not protected, and 83% of working adults will continue to work while sick. According to the survey, for example, 32% of people will tell a sick co-worker to go home but unfortunately only 3% of workers do.
"Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs," according to the CDC.
80% of germs are spread by our hands and transmission can happen either through personal contact or by touching contaminated surfaces. Every 60 seconds, a working adult will touch as many as 30 objects that may be contaminated by bacteria or viruses causing infectious disease. According to one recent workplace microbial survey, "desktop surfaces, computer keyboards, mouse and telephone receivers are more contaminated than restroom toilet seats."
Effective hand hygiene, which takes about 15-20 seconds, is one of the simplest ways to reduce the spread of germs and to stay healthy (especially during flu season). It involves five simple and effective steps (wet, later, scrub, rinse and dry) as recommended by the CDC.
If you see hand sanitizer stations in public facilities, especially where there are large groups of people, be sure to take advantage of them. In studies, 84% of people prefer foam sanitizers compared to gels. Providing a product people like is important as it will result in higher frequency usage. Additionally, foam leaves no sticky after feel, is quicker to apply, leaves no mess and spreads easily on the hands
Protect yourself with DebMed Hand Sanitizers
Finally, during flu season be sure to take everyday precautions to stay healthy such as coughing into your sleeve and avoiding contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay home from work and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to help prevent the spread of germs.
- Healthy Handwashing Survey https://www.bradleycorp.com/handwashing
- Going to work sick is bad for business http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/conditions/going-to-work-sick-is-bad-for-business/article4183493/
- How Flu Spreads http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm
- Put Your Hands Together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyRtMl4a1FE
- Why Foam is Better than Gel http://www.debgroup.com/ca/technology-zone/about-instantfoam/why-foam-better-gel
- 9 Flu Hacks to Make You Feel Better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nCwaj9x88o
About the Author
Patrick Boshell is the Marketing Director for Deb Canada and the managing editor for Deb Group's Hand Hygiene, Infection Prevention and Food Safety blog. He's been actively involved in the Canadian commercialization of several Deb innovations including Optidose InstantFOAM Hand Sanitizer for healthcare and GrittyFOAM Heavy Duty Hand Cleaner for manufacturing and industrial applications.
Patrick is an advocate for making hand hygiene contagious in the workplace. He is also a social media enthusiast, using tools such as LinkedIN and Twitter to help educate the importance of effective hand hygiene and skin care to a global audience. To connect with Patrick, please contact him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.