There are many ways we pick up germs: shaking hands, touching animals, touching raw foods. And there are many types of germs: bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses. And… There are many types of illnesses that may be caused by germs: cold, flu, food poisoning, hantavirus, Lyme disease. And these are only short lists of examples. Germs are easily contracted and spread, but there are ways to help minimize picking up germs and spreading germs. Here are some easy ways to fight them:
Clean and Disinfect Surfaces – Did you know that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaning with, say, soap and water removes germs, while disinfecting destroys germs. Disinfectants contain ingredients that kill bacteria and other germs. If the product you’re using has a label that says ‘disinfectant’ and has an EPA registration number that means the disinfectant is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Food Safety – When you think food safety, you should think foodborne illness. Foodborne illnesses—also referred to as foodborne diseases, foodborne infections, and food poisoning—are illnesses caused by a variety of bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can be foodborne. Whenever you handle and/or cook foods, you should always… cook foods to proper temperatures in order to kill harmful bacteria (use a food thermometer), refrigerate foods in order to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria growth, and take precautions to prevent cross-contamination, such as using one designated cutting board for fresh produce and using one designated cutting board for raw fish, meats, and poultry AND making sure that food juices—such as meat, poultry, and seafood—do not drip on other foods in the refrigerator.
You’ve heard this one since you were a kid… Wash Your Hands – When you wash your hands you’re getting rid of germs you may have contracted and you’re minimizing the spreading of germs. Stop for a moment, and think about when you wash your hands. These should always be a priority in the fight against germs. After changing a diaper. After contact with body fluids, e.g., nasal secretions, saliva, vomit. After touching animals. After you use the restroom. Before cleaning a wound. Before, during, and after handling and cooking food.
It never hurts to be reminded of ways to prevent the contraction and spreading of germs, and these easy tips make a big difference in fighting germs and staying healthy.