Where Germs Are Hiding: Outside Edition

If you’re on the go this holiday season, shopping, visiting or otherwise away from home, you’re likely to come across a germ or two. In our everyday lives, there are any number of places we go without thinking — like the gas station or the ATM — and don’t realize germs are lurking out of sight. Normally, this is not an issue because our immune systems know how to handle germs, but during the winter, we are often more prone to catching the bugs that go around.

To that end, we’re taking a look at some of the places you’ll probably be visiting where you may (unknowingly) come in contact with germs.

The drive-thru: Lots of us will be hitting drive-thrus to pick up our favorite holiday flavored coffees and drinks. Keep a close eye on how your drink is passed to you. Make sure the person at the window doesn’t touch the top of your cup. Otherwise, you’re just taking the germs from their hands and putting them directly in your mouth.

The gas pump: People pump gas at all time, sick or not. So, to protect yourself from catching viruses at the pump, use some of the window wiper paper towels to cover the pump handle. You can also use the paper towels as a barrier when punching in your debit card numbers or zip code. For an extra layer of protection, use hand sanitizer when you’re done.

ATM, bank or stores: Bring your own pen if you’re going to be signing credit card receipts. Public pens are like money – covered in germs. When using the debit card machine or ATM, punch in your info with your knuckles, not your fingertips. That way, when you rub your eye or mouth with your fingertip, you’re not transferring germs. Money is one of the germiest objects to touch, so sanitize the outside of your wallet, debit/credit cards and handles of your purse to keep germs from spreading.

The grocery store: It’s no secret that grocery cart handles carry high levels of fecal bacteria. If you can’t find a disinfecting wipe to clean off the handle before you shop, guide your cart from the other side of the shopping cart. When picking produce, be sure to put fruits and veggies in plastic bags or reusable shopping bags. The store’s conveyer belt is covered in germs that can take the shine off those apples. It’s nothing a good wash at home can’t fix, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And speaking of reusable shopping bags, throw them in the wash every once in a while — they can harbor bacteria.

Be alert when out and about this holiday season. You want to spend the season celebrating, not sick in bed. Now, we’re not trying to scare you into staying home. In fact, next week, we’ll be looking at places inside your home where germs may be hiding… like your own guest bathroom! Eek!

Have a tip for avoiding germs while on the go? Share your thoughts with us!