4 Smart Strategies to Steer Clear of Everyday Germs



You can’t completely avoid the millions of tiny, infection-causing microbes in the world around you. But there are lots of little things you can do to help protect yourself and others from spreading these germs.

Sneeze into your elbow.  After learning the results of a new study published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, you may never go out during flu season again.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers explain there is an invisible gas cloud you expel with every cough or sneeze that propels droplets of mucus 200 times further than previously thought and allows them to stay airborne long enough to enter ventilation units.

If you’re sick and must mingle, cover your mouth and nose with your shoulder or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. If you’re healthy, stay at least 8 feet from the hacker.


Greet with a fist bump. It’s not just for the young and hip. This gentle knocking of knuckles may be the healthiest new way to say hello. The traditional handshake means fingertips and palms meet. Eventually, your hand touches your eyes or mouth, more people, and other surfaces, spreading 10 times more bacteria than the quick tap of a closed fist.

Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is the best way to keep from spreading germs, but since even hospital workers do it properly only 40% of the time, fist bumping is a simple, hygienic alternative.


Clean your cellphone. According to one report, cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.

The worst news is many cellphone manufacturers forbid you to clean them with liquid or aerosol cleaners. That’s unfortunate because an independent lab found that plain, old rubbing alcohol can clean nearly 100% of the bacteria from your electronic device.

While microfiber cloths will remove oil and dirt, they can’t rub off all bacteria. Still, you can find sanitizing wipes made for mobile devices. Use them at least once a week.


Buy your own yoga mat. Don’t stop doing yoga. It’s healthy in so many ways. But for less than $10, you can amp up its health factor by owning your own yoga mat. Shared mats are a breeding ground for bacteria.

It’s this direct skin contact that is so worrisome. The list of possible infections you could pick up read like a Who’s Who of bacteria — herpes, plantar warts, MRSA, jock itch, toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, and, of course, your basic cold and flu viruses.

And just in case you still catch something from germs, flip to page 104 in The Get Well, Stay Well Guidebook for Seniors to learn about the immunity all-stars that could shorten your cold!





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  • FC&A Staff Writer