The summer months are prime for vacations with family and friends. Whether it’s just a short drive away or a flight to another country, escaping to another place tends to bring all sorts of fun and relaxation. However, if you aren’t careful, going on vacation can do you more harm than good. Germs and bacteria don’t just stay clear of your favorite vacation spots or modes of transportation just because you would like some time away. In fact, airports, planes and hotels can be some of the largest hot-spots for germs. No, you don’t have to avoid going on vacation altogether, but you should be more aware of your surroundings to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Protecting Yourself in Terminal G
Whether you are in an airport in your hometown, a large city or somewhere exotic, every airport and every terminal is Terminal G (for germs). Everywhere you look, sit, touch, step… all contain various germs and bacteria that you would rather not take with you on your flight. Think it can’t be that bad? Think about this:
Public drinking fountains can harbor as many as 2.7 million bacteria per square inch.
Where else are germs hiding in airports? Any door handles, arm rests, counter tops, handrails and elevator buttons are germ hot-spots. While some of these areas may be cleaned off routinely by cleaning personnel, it is highly unlikely that they came right before the person in front of you sneezed or coughed on their hands before touching those areas… And the floor around the security check point – have you thought about all the bare feet that walked along that area before you got there with all the potential fungi they left behind?
What can we do to protect ourselves in airports? Wash your hands or sanitize them after touching common surfaces and if it is safe for you not to use the handrail, go ahead and keep your hands off of them. If you plan ahead, you can bring a pair of socks with you for going through security (if you don’t already have some on with your shoes) to keep your bare feet off of the flooring.
Germs On A Plane
No, this isn’t some parody of the Snakes On A Plane movie, but it is just as gross. Consider these facts:
- On a typical flight of 100 passengers, five people will have a cold or the flu
- Research shows that on a flight where 2% of the passengers had the flu at take-off, an additional 5% developed the same flu a week later
- You may be up to 100 times more likely to get sick with a cold on a plane than in your normal everyday life
Okay, so we’ve gathered that germs thrive on planes… How are they so much easier to spread and catch? Well, for starters, you are in close proximity to these people and sharing the same facilities. And at 30,000 feet, the air is particularly dry, causing passengers to become dehydrated and therefore more susceptible to catching a cold.
So, where are the germ hot-spots and how do we combat them? Bring some sanitizing wipes or sanitizing solution with you so you are always armed and ready. You’ll want to give your armrests a nice wipe before getting too comfy in your seat, and the same goes for your tray table. If you need to use the restroom while in flight, besides being sure to wash your hands, use a paper towel to open the door when you leave – not everyone washes their hands on the way out (sad but true).
Hotels Harbor Germs, Too
You’d think that a place created for you to relax when you are away from home that is also cleaned daily by a maid service would be pretty clean, right? Wrong. A study conducted across several hotels from one-star to five-star ratings revealed the following results:
- A $300/night room in New York had urine stains on the bedroom walls
- A well-recognized chain hotel in Miami had trails of urine in the carpets
- A four-star resort had urine stains and fecal matter on the walls, bedspread, chairs, vanity stool and the carpet next to the bed
- Hotel rooms can contain traces of
- Cold Viruses
- E. coli
- Hepatitis A
Why are hotels so dirty considering they have a maid service? When hotel rooms are cleaned, their crews typically dust, vacuum and disinfect common areas daily, however a true “deep cleaning” only happens an average of four times per year unless stains are apparent, leaving carpets, walls and more untouched in the mean time. Unless your room has duvet covers on the beds, chances are that bedspread wasn’t washed and changed like the sheets were…
What are the hotspots for germs in hotel rooms and how do we relax while protecting ourselves? The number one object you don’t want to touch until you wipe it down with a sanitizing wipe would be the remote control. This is something every hotel user touches at least once during their stay and it is not typically cleaned off by the cleaning staff. While you are at it, go ahead and wipe down any telephones, alarm clocks, ice buckets and even light switches and doorknobs if you plan to use them during your stay. If your bed has a regular bedspread, take that thing off as soon as possible – bedspreads are in the top germ-laden things in your room, so either ask for fresh blankets from the customer service desk or have your own previously packed in your suitcase. If your hotel room comes complete with a whirlpool tub, do yourself a favor and don’t use it. These tubs may be cleaned regularly, however the pipes are where the germs and bacteria are found. A study of whirlpool water samples by Microbiologist Dr. Rita Moyes of Texas A&M University found that 100% tested positive for agents that can cause urinary tract infections, rashes and pneumonia.
Providing Health Protection for Passengers and Visitors
It’s not always possible to bring your own personal stash of sanitizers or cleaners and walking through the airport doesn’t typically provide the perfect opportunity to open up your suitcase to take some out. Sometimes the best thing to do is for facilities to have a system in place to provide a cleansing option. One such solution would be to have hand sanitizer dispensers available in airports after security check points, outside of eating areas or right near each gate for anyone entering or exiting to feel at ease. For hotels, having a surface sanitizing solution available in or near hotel rooms is ideal for customers who would like added peace of mind in their temporary surroundings.
If you believe your local airport, hotel or even your own facility could benefit from such sanitizing solutions, we recommend taking a look at Workplace Essentials and their complete sanitizing solutions. From the Foam Hand Sanitizer Service to the Surface Sanitizer Service or Surface Sanitizing Wipes, Workplace Essentials offers a solution for every situation and location complete with a service contract for optimum performance and maintenance.