The COVID-19 pandemic probably taught the world more about pathogens than all the basic health classes people ever attended. Many may have learned from childhood that frequent handwashing, covering one’s mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing, keeping one’s distance from someone who’s ill, and practicing other similar health habits prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause diseases. Unfortunately, it took a global health crisis for people to fully understand their significance and learn how to do them correctly.
Since you are probably already familiar with the right ways to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 and other illnesses, you should also know what sort of practices to avoid when going out in public. Keep in mind that infectious diseases spread through direct or indirect contact between people. To help you out, here is a list of some of the top things you should stop doing to protect your health while in public spaces.
Touching Communal Objects And Surfaces
Bus and subway poles, doorknobs, shopping carts, automated teller machines (ATM), elevator buttons, and similar objects and surfaces come into contact with the hands of all types of people every day. Unfortunately, some of those people are likely to be sick, and it is possible that they sneezed or coughed in their hands and touched these things without first disinfecting properly. As such, there is a good chance that communal objects and surfaces are contaminated with a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can make you ill when you hold them with bare hands and touch your mouth, eyes, or nose afterward.
Protect yourself by wearing fabric antimicrobial gloves that can act as a barrier that will help you avoid getting pathogens on your hands. By wearing such a “hand protector,” you can confidently touch poles, handles, railings, keypads, or push buttons without worry. If you don’t have one, a good old piece of tissue paper should do the trick as well. Of course, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water to keep them germ-free, although these methods could be a bit inconvenient, especially if you are always on the go.
Staying In Poorly Ventilated Indoor Spaces
As you may know by now, viruses spread between people more easily indoors because the concentration of virus droplets in the air tends to be much higher than in the outdoors. This is why when you eat in a crowded restaurant or do business in an office with poor ventilation, the probability that viral particles in the air will get into contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth will be much higher, especially if you end up staying inside for a long time.
So, the next time that you want to eat in a restaurant, opt for al fresco dining or a place with open windows and fully functioning exhaust fans to better protect your health. Better yet, consider taking out your food, calling for delivery, or cooking at home. For your banking needs, how about transacting online so that you do not have to go to the bank? You can also share a ride with a family member instead of riding a bus or train. Ultimately, you should find other means to avoid staying in indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air.
Touching Your Face
You are probably unaware that you touch your face many times a day. You scratch your nose, rub your eyes, lean on your chin, and touch your lips with your fingers. One study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene found that people who do office work touch these areas of their face 16 times in an hour on average.
Think about what would happen if you held a contaminated door handle in your office and you rubbed your tired eyes afterward? You are essentially allowing pathogens to enter your body. Do not give bacteria and viruses a free pass by following a simple rule—just stop touching your face! If you cannot resist the urge, make sure to wash or sanitize your hands often, in order to protect your health.
Crowding With Other People
Being in a crowded setting, such as bars, fitness centers, sports arenas, or movie theaters can put you at a greater risk of contracting different respiratory illnesses, from a mild sore throat, common cold, and flu to sinus infections, bronchitis, and COVID-19. When a sick person near you coughs or sneezes, they release respiratory droplets that could land on your face. You can also breathe in viral and bacterial practices suspended in the air or touch surfaces contaminated by microbes.
Prevent getting infected by avoiding crowded areas or keeping a safe distance of at least six feet between yourself and other people outside your household. Also try limiting face-to-face contact with others when grocery shopping or running errands. Consider only going to stores and other establishments during off-peak hours or opting for contactless transactions whenever possible.
Letting Your Guard Down
You cannot let your guard down whenever you go outside since there is always a risk of you getting infected by different types of pathogens when mingling with strangers, especially inside enclosed spaces. Even if you cannot see these microbes, always assume that they are present wherever you are.
Remain cautious and always prepare before going to public places. Bring a face mask as protection when social distancing is not possible, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands every time you touch something. Moreover, avoid loitering in public spaces. Go home as soon as you are through with your business.
The COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the truth that health is indeed wealth. Only when you are healthy can you pursue your dreams, enjoy the company of loved ones, and live a happy life. That said, protecting your health should be one of your top priorities. Continue practicing healthy habits and avoiding the “don’ts” discussed above to lower your risk of getting sick. As the famous adage goes, “prevention is always better than cure.”