GERMS Outside the Home: How to Stay Safe

Part Two of a Two Part Series

In Part One, some disturbing information was revealed about the presence of germs in your residence. While it is impossible to completely rid your home of germs, there are ways to decrease the spread of organisms and maintain a healthy household. During flu season, and now with the existence of a new coronavirus, the Novel Coronavirus, it is important to know techniques that help you to stay safe and healthy when outside of the home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019, October) have recommendations to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. Frequent hand washing is the most important thing an individual can do to prevent the spread of illness. Hand washing should be done using soap and water and last for at least 20 seconds. It is acceptable to use a 60% alcohol-based hand rub when this is not feasible. Sneezing and coughing should be done into a tissue if possible. The tissue should then be thrown away, after which you should wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, coughing or sneezing into the inside of your elbow is better than doing so into your hand. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. (CDC, 2019, October). 

When at work, use antibacterial cleaners to routinely sanitize frequently touched objects and common surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, and phones (CDC, 2019, November). Do not go to work when you are sick. While at school, make sure your children can wash their hands with soap and water and carry alcohol-based hand rubs to use before eating and after activities when they are touching objects that can carry germs. Keep your child home from school when they are sick. (CDC, 2019, November)

When in a hotel, try to avoid complimentary hotel items such as coffee makers, telephones, and TV remote controls (Darrisaw, 2020). Wash hands often and bring disinfecting wipes to use on door handles, tables, countertops, sinks, toilets, and other hard objects that could have been touched by previous guests (Darrisaw, 2020). Wear shoes in the room and avoid bare feet contact with the floors (Darrisaw, 2020). Eleven of fifteen hotels tested in an investigation showed that dirty glasses were not being washed, but rather rinsed with water and dried with dirty towels (Ducey & Longhini, 2009). In one instance, the towel used was first utilized to clean the counter and the floor (Ducey & Longhini, 2009). It is recommended to first prewash glasses prior to use. 

First identified in Wuhan, China, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) spreads in a similar way to the flu. The spread of the coronavirus can occur by droplet transmission.  In other words, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, it can transfer the disease (CDC, 2019, December). Those at risk for severe complications and illness include immunosuppressed, very young, or elderly individuals (CDC, 2019, December). The recommendations for avoiding germs as mentioned above can also be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

While there are supportive treatments if infected with the Novel Coronavirus or flu, only the flu has an available vaccine. The CDC (2019, October) recommends a yearly flu vaccine by the end of each October for anyone six months and older (unless informed by their doctor that they cannot get the vaccine). The CDC (2019, October) refers to this as the “first and most important step in protecting against influenza and its potentially serious complications.” It has been proven that the flu vaccine significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza (CDC, 2019, October).While it is true that the flu vaccine does not always protect against every strain, the vaccination does reduce the severity of the illness and decreases the rate of flu-related hospitalizations (CDC, 2019, October). 


CDC. (2019, October). Preventive Steps. Retrieved from

CDC. (2019, November). Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu. Retrieved from

CDC. (2019, December). Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and You. Retrieved from

Darrisaw, M. (2020). WATCH: 7 Ways to Avoid Germs During a Hotel Stay. Retrieved from

Ducey, & Longhini. (2009). Undercover investigation: Dirty hotel drinking glasses. Retrieved from