The weather has given us a taste of winter, and unfortunately we’re going to be seeing more snow and colder weather days ahead. With that, we’re all digging out our gloves, hats and scarves for the season. It’s common to see many runny noses, hear coughs and sneezes and be experiencing a sore throat this time of year.
Be honest, have you ever used your glove or scarf to wipe your nose and/or cover a sneeze or cough when a tissue isn’t available? Then you continue to touch your steering wheel, door knob, seat or shopping cart all while spreading those germs to others. This is called cross contamination.
“People use gloves to protect themselves from the elements,” says Maggie Busta, WMC infection preventionist. “However, winter gloves do not shield us from germs. Our winter gloves may carry e-coli, cold and flu viruses, such as influenza, and can potentially contribute to the spread of these. “If you are worried about touching public surfaces (ATM’s, cross walk buttons, shopping carts, etc.) it is best to remove your gloves first because it is easier to sanitize your bare hands,” adds Busta.
Winter gear picks up everything bare hands do, so it is best to wash these items weekly. Most germs will survive two or three days on winter gear, possibly longer. We don’t think to wear our clothes over and over without washing them, yet in colder weather we regularly wear our coats, gloves, hats and scarves when they haven’t been washed in months. Something to think about: when was the last time you washed your winter gear, or your child’s winter gear?
“Washing your hands is the most important way to prevent the spread of infection. It’s also important to eat healthy and have a good sleep routine. Carrying tissues and hand sanitizer with you can help keep you and your community healthy,” shares Busta.