How to Cool Off and Stay Safe in Public Pools

The cool, glistening waters of public pools are certainly seductive on a hot summer day. But if they’re not properly maintained and treated, these public pools spread germs that can cause unpleasant illnesses and ruin the fun. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe (and cool) in a public pool.

Source: How to Cool Off and Stay Safe in Public Pools

“Another One Bites the Dust” works too, but you might not want to be caught humming it while doing CPR. 😉

You could teach swimmers to communicate their status over the water, the same way scuba divers do under it. If I point at a kid, they need to make a fist and tap the top of their head with it. That’s the “I’m okay” sign. If I don’t get a response, I need to go get you.  That said, I’ve swam in water where visibility is 6 ft at most, with goggles.

Wash Your Hands at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office to Avoid Bringing Nasty Germs Home

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and probably should: patients.

Source: Patients Leave the Hospital with Superbugs on Their Hands

Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it when you leave the office, get off the elevator, leave the building and one last time when you’re safely in your car. You are touching thousands of sick people each step of the way.

If you don’t have to touch things in a hospital or doctors office, don’t.  Magazines are probably the worst things to handle – your phone or tablet is a safer option.

To a certain extent you need exposure to everyday germs to stay healthy, but not at that level.

The Common Germ-Avoiding Tricks That Aren’t Doing You Any Favors

Have you ever held your breath when someone coughed? Or tried to flush the toilet with your foot? Some of these tricks might help if you do them the right way, but they’re often unnecessary and based mostly in paranoia. Here’s the truth about avoiding germs in everyday life.

Source: The Common Germ-Avoiding Tricks That Aren’t Doing You Any Favors

Masks are generally useless – they aren’t rated for the intended use, need a good seal (no beards!)…

Trying to stay germ free at the toilet is hilarious.  Flushing without the lid down sprays stuff everywhere, and with the lid down is marginally better because the spray isn’t contained within – it’s just redirected as it comes out at the seat.

Whole-Grain Flour Has a Short Shelf Life, So Freeze It

Let’s just say you were unable to resist the temptation of the bulk bin aisle, and you’ve arrived home with a half-dozen baggies filled with everything from quinoa flour to einkorn. These things happen, but not to worry, because you have plans — big plans! — for baking all sorts of wondrous things in the coming weeks.

Okay, you eager-beaver baker, you — do you know where you should be storing all your lovely bags of whole-grain flour until your schedule clears? Do you know why?

Source: Why You Should Probably Be Storing Your Whole-Grain Flours in the Freezer

Why should I care about it being in an air-tight container? Because even in the freezer, the fats will react (slowly) with oxygen and become rancid. In an air-tight container, the oxygen level will eventually drop too low for the reaction to continue, thus preserving the flour for a longer time than flour stored in the freezer and constantly exposed to fresh oxygen.

On the flip side, whole grain wheat has a shelf live of over 30 years if properly prepared, sealed and stored.  Just add a grinder for flour.

These Are the Germiest Spots on an Airplane

Anywhere there’s high traffic, and surfaces that can/should be touched…

The general consensus from this study: Airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home (NSF, 2011). Surprisingly, it is the one surface that our food rests on – the tray table – that was the dirtiest of all the locations and surfaces tested. Since this could provide bacteria direct transmission to your mouth, a clear takeaway from this is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with the tray table. It’s also advisable to bring hand sanitizer for any other dirty surface you may touch along your journey.

Take a look at all of the results from the study to learn the other locations and surfaces you should steer clear from.

Source: Airline Hygiene Exposed

If you forget the hand sanitizer, or run low – use other surfaces.  Gloves might attract attention, so use:

  • the non dominant hand
  • knuckles instead of fingers to press buttons
  • elbows work too, but can draw attention to yourself

Stop Flushing With Your Foot, or: Germ Avoidance “Tricks” That Don’t Work

Perhaps you were as grossed out as we were by that recent Weill Cornell Medical College study that showed New York City’s subway system to be teeming with bacteria. Over an 18-month period, geneticist Christopher Mason and his team collected DNA from handrails, kiosks, seats, and turnstiles across the MTA to reveal a lush, invisible ecosystem containing more than 15,000 different kinds of microbial life. Ick, right?

Thankfully, the study also showed that the vast majority of bacteria found in the subway were harmless or even beneficial to humans. These “good” bacteria might come from food, remove toxins from the environment, or outcompete disease-causing pathogens lurking on surfaces. “That means more [bacterial] diversity, by the odds, would be a good thing,” Mason says.

Source: Pretty Much All of Your Weird Germ-Avoidance Behaviors Are Pointless

Hipster CDC Reports Flu Epidemic Peaked Years Ago

Gloves, tissue, etc – whatever you use to create a barrier between you and what you intend to handle…  It’s moot if you end up handling the surface that came into contact with a contaminated object.

Depending on what you are wearing a mask for, it’s not worth the time.  Most aren’t rated for germs/bacteria you’d be exposed to, and the ones that are – they require a solid fit to ensure quality.  That means no facial hair, guys.  As for what you’re exposed to – the percentage of particles is so vast and minute, some claim we’re breathing particles from Napoleon’s last breath.  In the outdoors, wind patterns can take things further than we’d believed.  Chernobyl demonstrated this when crops and animals throughout the world had higher levels of radiation…

The toilet?  The gross part is that the handle isn’t the issue, as the flush will distribute germs, bacteria, and fecal matter everywhere.  Closing the lid helps somewhat…  But we weren’t meant to use the toilet anyhow.

Germs aren’t a real health hazard; there are germs everywhere in your life, and the ones in bathrooms aren’t significantly more numerous or more dangerous than the rest. The best ways to steer clear of cold and flu germs (the most likely threats anywhere) are to:

  • wash your hands
  • avoid touching your face
  • support your immune system by not smoking and by exercising, eating, and sleeping well