When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Here’s how to stay safe in public restrooms
We can’t stop the call of nature, so the initial line of defense is to be extra mindful
Jul 7, 2020
Quarantine protocols have eased—meaning there are more and more people visiting public spaces like offices, malls and restaurants. Though we’re not at all agreeing or condoning trips for leisure, once you’re out into the wilderness—er, the city—you can’t stop the call of nature. However, public restrooms, which already had that ick-factor even before the pandemic, seem like the breeding ground for a virus. But when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Here’s a few reminders when you need to use a public restroom.
Be as quick as possible
Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, M.D., a professor of pediatric infectious disease at Stanford University, said in an interview with The New York Times that the risk of infection is more likely to be caused by the amount of time a person has had contact in the restroom since the longer they stay, the more likely they are to touch surfaces.
Touch with a barrier
Because the virus can be spread through contact, only touch what is necessary and get out of there quickly! Dr. Tanya Altmann, M.D., spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggested using a barrier on your hands such as wipes, gloves or paper towels when touching anything. Dispose of them right away after use.
Bring your own sanitizing wipes
Paper towels may already be available inside the restroom, but bringing and using your own can minimize the amount of surfaces you touch.
Use toilet seat covers
To add an extra layer of safety, avail of disposable toilet seat covers and use them every time you’re in a public restroom. This isn’t just to ward off the virus from coming into contact with your body, but it’s also just general hygiene.
Wipe down door handles and toilet seats
While establishments should be responsible for sanitizing their restrooms regularly, it’s always best to stay secure by doing this yourself too. “The best way to deal with [restroom] surfaces is with disinfectant wipes and hand washing: wipe down door handles and toilet seats,” said Maldonado. Before you touch anything, spray some disinfectant on it.
Don’t take off your mask in private
Even when inside the restroom, do not take off your face mask. Yes, you’re alone, but you can still leave respiratory droplets around the restroom which have been found as a source of transmission.
Skip the hand-drying machines
It’s mandatory (and common sense) to wash hands thoroughly especially after using the restroom. Don’t opt for the quicker way of just drying your hands using the machines. Not only is it not enough protection, researchers from the University of Leeds found that doing so may also blast infectious particles into the air.
Of course, social distancing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the virus spreads when in close contact such as when you’re less than six feet away. So make sure not to enter any public restroom that’s already crowded.
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