Pandemic Precautions: Places To Avoid And When To Immediately Wash Your Hands


Mark Antony | 9 min read

The Coronavirus pandemic has completely rattled the entire world. Despite the individuals who have recovered so far, this virus is not going to stop spreading anytime soon. We, as people, can help in flattening the curve by taking precautions and making sure that we not only keep ourselves safe but also the people around us.  While 95% of people claim to practice proper hand hygiene, studies show that only 67% of people practice any sort of hand hygiene.  In order to keep yourself and others around you safe, you need to make sure that you wash your hands properly and avoid visiting crowded locations. Keep reading to learn the items that have the highest chance of carrying viruses and germs, as well as the list of the places that you should avoid for the time being.

washing your hands with soap

Photo by ivabalk

When To Wash Your Hands Immediately

Generally, we are supposed to wash our hands on a regular basis anyway as part of our personal hygiene. The presence of this virus has just increased the severity of this act. Our hands carry a high risk of this (or any!) infection. That is why, it is important to incorporate handwashing into our lives in order to limit all sorts of infections, including viral infections. This includes the Coronavirus infection and other pathogens that infect people.

It is essential that you wash your hands more than ten times a day in order to protect both yours and your loved ones’ health. It is these small changes, like washing hands, that is going to keep you safe from all sorts of infections. However, if you come in contact with any of the surfaces or items listed below, then it is advised to immediately wash your hands afterward. That is because you probably touched a larger number of pathogens.

Money

    Money is an essential item of our lives and throughout our day we touch it numerous of times. In fact, we also involuntarily touch the surfaces where money was placed before. Because of this, we end up transmitting billions of bacteria onto our fingers and hands. Then we end up touching our face, which is basically the front door for bacteria and viruses to enter our body. Therefore, if you come in contact with money, make sure that you wash your hands afterward, immediately.

    Handwashing facts: There is a fecal matter on 10% of credit cards, 14% of banknotes, and 16% of cellphones.

     ATM mashine, money and credit cards

    Photo by Nick Pampoukidis

    Handles, Bells, Railings, Lighting Switches

    Things such as handles on doors and public transport, bells, lighting switches, railings, etc. in public places (and at home) are highly saturated with bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other dangerous microorganisms. Hence, touching them greatly increases your chances of getting infected, therefore, wash your hands!

    Restaurant Menus

      Thousands of people probably touch a menu and go through it prior to washing their hands. You don’t know who has touched these menus. Therefore, if you visit a restaurant, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after you have touched the menu and placed your order. Don’t touch your face or belongings until you have washed your hands.

      Handwashing Facts: Only 20% of people wash their hands before preparing food, and 39% before eating food.

      kitchen and bar, woman looking at the menu

      Photo by Tayla Brand

      Animals

        You will obviously pet and play with your furry friend if you have one. However, dangerous pathogens plus microorganisms tend to live on the fur of these animals, including their paws, skin, and muzzles. Hence, they can make you sick. Therefore, make sure to wash your hands when you are done petting or playing with your pet. In fact, make sure your pet is clean as well by giving them a bath every now and then, by using animal-friendly anti-bacterial products. 

        Your Doctor’s Office

          When you visit your doctor, a different patient was probably sitting in your place before you, and then someone else before that. Medical offices cannot disinfect their surfaces every time each patient leaves, hence make sure to wash your hands once you are done with your doctor’s visit. Do not touch your face until you have washed them.

          Handwashing Facts: Approximately 39% of people don’t wash their hands after sneezing, coughing, or after blowing their nose.

           woman sneezing

          Photo by Mojca J

          Smartphones

            Your smartphone (or any sort of cellphone), laptops, tablets, etc. are all carrying millions of bacteria. These places are the perfect environment for them to grow, hence wash your hands once you are done using them. Also, disinfect them on a regular basis in order to reduce any risk of infection. Most of us are always on our phones and it can become tiresome to wash the hands after each use. In this case, keep a hand sanitizer gel with you at all times, especially when using your phone outside.

            Stationery That’s Not Yours

              Stationery, like pens and pencils, that aren’t yours or are for public use, like in offices and banks, shouldn’t be touched at all. You don’t know how many people have touched those things. They are highly saturated with pathogens and bacteria. If you know that the place you are visiting will require you to use a pen, then always bring your own. If you do end up using these pens, then make sure to wash your hands immediately, or at least use a hand sanitizer gel.

              Handwashing Facts: Up to 80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touch.

              stationary, smartphone, notebook and flowers

              Photo by Jess Bailey

              Sponges Used For Washing And Kitchen Cutting Boards

                Kitchen cutting boards and cleaning sponges are yet another breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Make sure you wash these items properly, especially after you have cut meat on the board. Once you are done washing the items, then wash your own hands as well.

                Public Soap Dispensers

                  It’s great if you find a place where you can wash your hands when you are outside. However, public bathrooms are not really the ideal place to be when trying to stay away from a virus. This includes the soap dispenser as well; it carries a high risk of infection. Hence, when you do use the public soap dispenser, make sure that you wash your hand’s entire surface, which also includes the wrists, for a minimum of twenty seconds in order to kill the bacteria.

                  Handwashing Facts: Around 33% of people don’t use soap when washing their hands.

                  washing hands with water only

                  Photo by Nathan Dumlao

                  Everything Present At The Airport

                    If you are traveling somewhere, you are probably going to spend at least two to three hours at the airport. During this time, you are going to come into contact with many things. Whatever you touch, make sure to immediately wash your hands, or use your hand sanitizer gel. Pretty much everything at the airport is covered with some sort of bacteria, microorganism, and pathogens.

                    Handwashing Facts: 

                    • About 7% of women and 15% of men do not wash their hands at all after using the bathroom.
                    • Most bacteria on our hands is on the fingertips and under the nails. The number of bacteria on our fingertips doubles after using the bathroom. Most people wash the palms of their hands and miss everything else.

                    airport waiting-room

                    Places To Avoid During The Pandemic

                    According to a survey conducted by health experts, they have labeled the places that are at a high risk of carrying the Coronavirus. These health experts are responsible for assessing the risk of this highly dangerous infection. They have rated the locations listed below on a scale from 1 to 10, with level 1 being the least risky and level 10 being the most risky. Take a look and try to avoid these places.

                    #10 A Large Gathering Of People At Any Location

                      Any location where there are large groups of people automatically increases the risk of this virus, taking it to a level 10 on the risk scale, making it highly risky. This happens in places where there aren’t any risk reduction strategies.

                      #9 Public Transport, Concert Halls, Bars

                        On the risk scale, these places will be on level 9. They are highly infectious due to the large gathering of people. Locations like bars and concert halls are at a high risk due to alcohol lowering the inhibitions of people who consume it, making them more carefree and unable to take any precautions. This also includes not wearing a mask since they are drinking; hence making these locations riskier than restaurants.  

                        #8 Gyms And Stadiums

                          On the risk scale, these places will be on level 8. Similar to concerts, stadiums are also known for having a large gathering of people during sporting events. People tend to have fun, they sing and scream and might drink alcohol. Because of all this, saliva particles are released into the air that others are breathing in; hence contributing to the spread of the virus. That is why it is best to avoid these places altogether.

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                          Handwashing Facts: On average, you come into contact with 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, exposing you to 840,000 germs.

                          #7 Swimming Pools And Schools

                            On the risk scale, these places will be on level 7. One of the challenging parts of this pandemic is making children understand the severity of the situation and asking them to take precautions, like wearing masks, keeping at a distance from others, and taking the handwashing task seriously. Due to this, a lot of the countries’ schools have transferred to online teaching and learning for the time being. When it comes to swimming, public pools are yet another breeding ground for bacteria and should be avoided at all costs.

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                            Handwashing Facts: Proper handwashing can reduce diarrhea rates by 40% and respiratory infections by close to 20%.

                             

                            #6 Cinemas, Restaurants, Playgrounds, Hairdresser Salons, And Barbers

                              On the risk scale, these places will be on level 6. Due to air circulation, it is a lot riskier to eat inside a restaurant rather than eating outdoors. When it comes to hairdressers and barbers, it is basically impossible to implement social distancing. Also, health experts advise against using hair dryers, since they can potentially contribute in the spreading of the virus inside a room. When it comes to cinemas, they will need to implement new rules that lower the risk in order for them to remain open. They need safeguards in place, for example keeping a safe distance between seats, keeping the masks on, and restricting the ability of passing visitors who have already been seated.

                              Handwashing Facts: Only about 5% of people wash their hands correctly.

                              #5 Beaches, Shopping Malls, Airplanes

                                On the risk scale, these places will be on level 5. Health experts believe that traveling on a plane during this pandemic is risky, until and unless a few changes haven’t introduced that practice safe traveling. When it comes to shopping malls, it is better to visit spacious stores instead of going to small, enclosed markets. Plus, public beaches are off-limits during the pandemic.

                                Handwashing Facts: Most people only wash their hands for 6 seconds.

                                #4 Hospitals, Doctors’ Offices, Business Offices, Dental Offices

                                  On the risk scale, these places will be on level 4. Certain health experts warn that brushing the patient’s teeth in dental offices releases bits of saliva from their mouths. An infected person could be carrying the virus and not know about it, because of which the virus will end up spreading in the air. Plus, the other places mentioned here, like doctor’s offices, hospitals, and business offices, are also at risk if people don’t take precautions.

                                  #3 Hotels And Camping

                                    On the risk scale, these places will be on level 3. When camping or even walking around the city, it is important to avoid crowded locations. During hotel visits and camping, it is riskier when it is time to check-in and when people are all gathered together, like during breakfast time. In hotels, it is best not to visit their restaurants (or any restaurant), since there is a greater risk due to the gathering of teenagers and children.

                                    Handwashing Facts: Elevator buttons harbor 22% more bacteria than toilet seats.

                                    #2 Gas Stations And Outdoor Activities

                                      On the risk scale, these places will be on level 2. Cycling, running, and walking on trails is less risky since you don’t come into contact with a lot of people. When it comes to gas stations, there is a possibility that an infected person was holding the refueling pump that you are holding now. However, the virus spreads mainly through the air by coming in close contact with others. Nevertheless, either wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer gel after you have touched the refueling pump, just to stay safe.

                                      #1 Parks

                                        On the risk scale, this place will be on level 1. Health experts strongly believe that parks should be one of the first places to reopen. They seem to be the safest place since people can maintain a lot of physical distance from each other.

                                        park and trees alley

                                        Photo by Peter H

                                        Conclusions:

                                        1. People frequently touch their nose, mouth, and eyes without even realizing it. Viruses and germs can get into our body through the nose, mouth, and eyes and make us sick. Keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to protect you from getting sick.
                                        2. This is not the time to be reckless and go outside as if nothing has happened. Respiratory infections and many other sicknesses could be avoided if everyone develops proper handwashing habits.
                                        3. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizer kills viruses that may be on your hands immediately after touching the above-mentioned items. 
                                        4. If you need to leave your home, avoid any location where there are large groups of people. Locations like public transport, bars, concert halls, stadiums, gyms, malls, and schools are at high risk.
                                        5. If such a visit is unavoidable, wear personal protection kit containing a Full Face Shield, combined with a Surgical Disposable Mask or KN95 Respirator Personal Mask to reduce the risk.
                                        6. Stay always informed and keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources.
                                        7. You can reduce your chances of being infected by taking the mentioned simple precautions and avoiding crowded places.

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