Careless? Not you.
You never take chances, always wash your hands thoroughly, make sure everything you touch is spic and span.
So if ever the misery of norovirus hits, you know it isn’t you.
Trouble is though, it’s not necessarily you that’s careless.
Other people can make you sick too. THEIR carelessness, not yours.
For instance, you always wash your hands – keep them clean at all times.
The things you touch
But you handle money, don’t you?
All of us do. You need coins for pay-and-display parking, the newsagent only accepts cash, and the till in the coffee shop doesn’t work on contactless.
And money NEVER GETS WASHED, does it?
Despite that, 80 PER CENT of people never wash their hands after handling it. And the average £1 coin has more germs on it than a toilet seat.
There are plenty of other high-touch things that never get washed too. Still thinking cash, how about the keypad of your nearest ATM? About the only time it might get cleaned is if it rains. Which is why, like the money you take out of it, it too is covered in germs like a toilet seat.
OK, now walk yourself through the average day. How many high-touch areas do you touch without even thinking, and maybe forget about your hands?
Sure, you’re disciplined about always before food and after the loo. But do you realise how many times we touch our faces in between? Believe it or not, two or three thousand times a day is about average.
Some things are never washed
Uh huh. So germs might get in, no matter how meticulous your are. Because of all the things you touch that you don’t realise never get cleaned.
Like any keypad. On your phone, on your computer, the cashpoint in any shop, lift buttons, security locks, you name it. And even if somebody did come along with a damp rag, the thing would probably stop working because water got in.
Then there’s supermarket trolleys. Never cleaned from one day to the next , the problem is such an issue that stores in the US have started deliberately offering sanitising wipes – or even putting trolleys through a machine that mists them with germ-killing peroxide.
Supermarket conveyers are another high-touch, out-of-mind source of germs we take for granted. So are the actual shelves of produce themselves. Watch next time you’re shopping, and see how people feel fruit and vegetables for ripeness and freshness. You’ve washed your hands, but have they?
And it’s other people’s collective carelessness that could put you in danger, no matter how careful you are. On top of which, food poisoning nasties like norovirus take three or four days to assert themselves, so you have no idea what you might have touched or swallowed in that time.
It might even be from “secondary touching”. You pack your shopping into bags and take them out to the car. Getting your key is a fumble, so you put the bags on the ground to fish it out. Then you put your bags in the boot.
Uh huh, again. What might now be on the underside of those bags? Or lurking on the floor of the boot, transferred from the last time you did it? And when you unpack those bags on your kitchen countertop, do you always remember to wipe down with disinfectant as you do it?
Only this week a TV programme revealed how easy it is for fresh vegetables covered in germs to find their way into your fridge, simply by being packed loose in home delivery crates. And again, you’re meticulous about washing your hands, but who else is?
The answer is not very encouraging.
The “Ew” factor
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.
- 95% of people don’t even wash their hands properly.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
All of which means you have to assume that everything is a germ hazard before you even touch it. But you can’t clean everything every moment of the day. You have a life – and who can afford to sacrifice that amount of time?
Ah, but what you can do is eliminate germs on ALL surfaces and throughout the air before anyone else gets to them. After the day is over and people are gone, a nifty machine called a Hypersteriliser can mist up your workplace with ionised hydrogen peroxide, oxidising all bacteria and viruses down to zero.
Now if we can just persuade supermarkets, shops, restaurants, schools and other public places to do the same thing – at least all of us will be safe from high-touch surfaces, even if we are lax with washing our own hands.
(Sigh!) It’ll take a while though, before we get to that stage.
In the meantime, best to be as careful as we can and on our guard. It’s not just norovirus we have to look out for, there’s lethal nasties out there as well.
Already there are signs that the Ebola crisis could be ready to flare up again. Or some other world epidemic we’re nowhere near ready for.
Let’s be careful out there.
Picture Copyright: gpointstudio / 123RF Stock Photo