There’s a lot of focus on fighting germs during flu season (officially October through May in the U.S., peaking in February). But guess what? Germs don’t have calendars and they can’t read anyway. That means any time is ripe for gathering germs, infections and other ickiness at work, at school, out shopping — and yes, at home.
If your holiday, spring break or summer vacation plans include enjoying the weather rather than being under it, keep these year-round germ-fighting tips in mind.
Obviously, it helps to avoid close contact with people who are sick. But you can’t always tell who’s harboring an infection, or you may be a caregiver for a sick family member. So number one, wash your hands — a lot — and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available. Did you know there’s even a Global Handwashing Day? (If this excites you, mark your calendar now for Oct. 15 every year). Keep your hands less germy in the first place by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
Use a disinfectant to wash hard surfaces that get touched a lot. Sure, you wipe down the kitchen countertops at least daily, but don’t overlook doorknobs, phones and remotes. Oh, and back to the kitchen: Be sure to sanitize that sponge regularly and replace it often.
If you have a child in daycare, you’ve probably received a list of sickness symptoms that require you to keep little Jason or Jessica home. But don’t stop there: Make sure your daycare has comprehensive germ-fighting policies in place, including sanitizing toys and even employee hand-washing. If you’re not sure, ask.
Handshakes are a business staple, but research shows they transfer way more germs than fist bumps or even high-fives. Other alternatives are smiling, bowing, waving and even some Namaste gestures. If these options are a little too out-there for your workplace, see handwashing above.
You’re likely to get away with a shoulder hug or air kiss in a social setting, but what about those hors d’oeuvres, tailgating treats or potluck dishes? If they’re been sitting out too long at the wrong temperature — or have been subject to the dreaded double-dipping — they could become petri dishes for bacteria. Hit the buffet early while the food is freshest and relatively untouched. When in doubt, step away. Look at the bright side: That questionable cheesy dip may be calling your name, but just saying no might help you avoid both germs and unwanted pounds.