Helen J. Molchan, a registered nurse certified in infection control and director of employee health and infections control for Citizens Memorial Healthcare in Bolivar, offers these suggestions when it comes to hand washing:
Q: Where are the most germs found in the home, at work and in public?
A: In my opinion, the kitchen is the most contaminated area in the home. At work, shared computer keyboards and phones are probably the most contaminated. In public, contaminated locations include kitchens in restaurants and public restrooms.
Q: Is it true that the bulk of germs tend to hide where people least expect it?
A: It is the germs that we cannot see that are the most dangerous. People will often wash their hands if they see soil but tend to skip this process if the hands look clean. The kitchen counter may look clean, but could harbor salmonella from raw meat and chicken that is prepared on it or from a package that has leaked juices from fresh meat or chicken.
Q: What are some ways to prevent or lessen the spread of germs?
A: Good hand hygiene is the best defense against the spread of germs. Wash, wash, wash and make sure to use the convenient alcohol sanitizers that are available in all colors and scents. Make sure the product has at least 60 percent alcohol and make sure to read the label.
Q: Do gel sanitizers work?
A: Gel sanitizers work much better than soap and water. There is a lot of scientific data that supports the use of hand sanitizers. The CDC recommends that individuals use gel hand sanitizers any time there is no visible soil on the hands. They are much more effective than soap and water and more convenient. With these sanitizers you don’t need water or towels, and they are sold in bottles that you can carry with you. They are a lifesaver in areas where water is not available.
Q: Is it worth using antibacterial products in the home to cut germs?
A: Yes. There are many soaps available that are antimicrobial; the most common ingredient is triclosan. Check the back of the label to make sure the soap contains this ingredient.
Q: Is it true that white and green teas help fight germs and prevent common infections?
A: There is no scientific data that supports this theory. Researchers currently are working on some studies, but no scientific data has been gathered yet.
Q: How long do germs live?
A: The only way to determine the life of a germ is to study the specimen in a laboratory with a technician monitoring it. Some bacteria live longer on surfaces than others. Spores can live up to 40 days on environmental surfaces. Some viruses only can live a few moments outside the body. The important thing to remember is all surfaces you touch may be contaminated. Wash your hands after touching them.