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Protecting People in Your Environment

how to avoid germs

Riding public transit is good for the environment, but it may not be so good for your health during cold and flu season. However, you can take some precautions to minimize your risk of exposure to viruses while on the bus or subway.

 

Wear Gloves

 

Gloves are only useful if used properly. If you pull on gloves before boarding the train or bus, don’t touch your face or phone with your gloved hands. When you leave the bus, remove them by grabbing the glove at the wrist and turning it inside out as you take it off.

 

Use a Mask

 

There are mixed reviews of how much difference a mask can make during cold and flu season. It certainly provides more protection than a scarf. The fibers of a scarf don’t block viruses from coming through the fabric. If you do wear a surgical mask, be sure your hands are clean when you put it on and take it off. Otherwise, you’re exposing yourself to more germs by touching your face with dirty hands.

 

Hands Off Approach

 

Possibly the most important thing to do to protect yourself is to keep your hands off your face. Most people don’t realize how often they touch their face during an hour. Mindlessly scratching an itch, pushing hair out of the way, or rubbing eyes or the nose transfers the virus directly onto and into your body. If you absolutely must touch your face, wash your hands first.

 

Try to Be Antisocial

 

Move away from people who are coughing. If you’re packed in like sardines, try to turn your body away. That way, they’re getting your back instead of your face. Use your phone or a book for an activity that will minimize the chance someone will try to talk to you. It sounds rude, but, if someone is facing you and talking, they are breathing on you. This can be as bad as them coughing on you.

 

Use Hand Sanitizer

 

infection prevention methodsWashing hands with soap and water is best but carrying a sink in your purse isn’t practical. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse. There are holders for them that you can clip onto a key ring, a belt loop, or the strap of a purse for easy access. Use it liberally.

 

Stock Up on Tissues

 

If you do have to wipe your nose or touch your face, a tissue will come in handy. You can also pass them out to others. If you’re not able to move away from the cougher, offer a tissue. It could serve as a reminder to them to be mindful of their cough.

 

Get Enough Sleep

 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to illness. It can also slow down recovery if you do get sick. It’s always important to get enough sleep, but the stakes are higher during cold and flu season.

 

Nutrition Matters

 

Eating a variety of healthy foods is important to keep your immune system strong. One of the biggest culprits when it comes to depressing the immune system is sugar. WebMD says that sugar depresses the immune system right away and the effects last for several hours after consumption. If you must indulge, wait until you get home for the day.

Short of walking around in a bubble, there’s nothing you can do to guarantee you won’t get sick. Following these tips can certainly give you a fighting chance!

Additional Resources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757
https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/10-immune-system-busters-boosters#1
https://abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFluNews/story?id=5826929&page=1
https://patient.info/health/cough-leaflet/features/how-to-avoid-catching-a-cold-on-public-transport
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/well/live/can-you-prevent-picking-up-germs-on-the-subway.html

 

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