I was driving to work this morning and heard on the news that North Carolina has experienced 74 deaths related to the flu. That got me to thinking. What places are  melting pots for germs? Public places like my grocery and drug stores—places that I frequent every week and where sick people go to get medicine. I’m a nurse first and a KCL second so, of course, I’m concerned about the spreading of germs. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the single best prevention for the spread of flu is the flu vaccine. You may or not be able to take the flu vaccine so please follow up with your primary physician. However, whether you take the flu shot or not, here are some great tips listed below that will help you fight the germs in your environment!

1. Wash your hands

Hand washing is one of the easiest ways to prevent germ transmission. According to the CDC, handwashing is the best way to remove germs, preventing the spread of them and staying healthy! Remember these 5 steps: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry!

2. Use sanitizer wipes

Sanitizer wipes are usually provided at the entry of most grocery stores to wipe off the handle of your cart. Health Departments don’t typically inspect the grocery cart for bacteria. If the wipes aren’t provided by the store, carry your own baby wipes! They contain enough alcohol to remove bacteria from a surface.

3. Use hand sanitizer

I have a little bottle of hand sanitizer hooked to my coupon bag. Hand sanitizer is a great substitute if you can’t wash your hands. Remember, if kids use it, make sure they don’t put their hands in their mouth until the sanitizer has dried.

4. Avoid close contact

Avoid close contact with anyone who has an active cough. I was in a line at Harris Teeter this week during a sale and had to wait for a manager to process some coupons. A lady was standing near me with a very congested cough. I slowly eased away from her to prevent catching her germs, but every time I moved, she moved toward me because she thought the line was moving!

5. Educate your children

Teach your children about not putting their mouth on carts. If one person uses a cart every 30 minutes, that’s 48 times the cart has changed hands in a single day. Usually, health inspections done by the local Health Department don’t include an assessment of shopping carts. So, let’s think about what may have touched the cart you’re using today. Perhaps a baby with a dirty diaper? A person who just left the doctor with a flu diagnosis who needed to stop and get medication? The possibilities are endless. Educate your children regarding germs and germ transmission in terms they can understand. For example, we call cavities sugar bugs in my family. Find a term your child will understand to explain germs like “buggy bugs”! Explain that “buggy bugs” live on carts (buggies) and we don’t want to touch them with our mouth. Involve your children in helping you to remember to clean your cart and hands! They’ll catch on quickly if you make it a game.

6. Public restroom hygiene

Use the paper towel you used to dry your hands with to open the bathroom door when you exit. This obviously won’t work if there are only blow dry hand machines, but if you carry hand wipes in your purse, you can use them to open the door to the restroom.

7. Stay home if you’re sick

I know this is easier said than done, but if you can, stay home to prevent spreading germs to your co-workers.

8. Eat healthy

Nothing is more important than eating your fruits and vegetables during flu season! I also opt to take a supplemental Vitamin C during the winter to try to ward off anything I’m exposed to.


This is a guest post by Tammy from North Carolina.


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