Remember to defend your health

The dreaded ‘W’ word (winter) is fast approaching. So is the equally dreaded flu season. So remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom because it most certainly will hold the nasty viruses and germs at bay. Wait!

The dreaded ‘W’ word (winter) is fast approaching. So is the equally dreaded flu season.

So remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom because it most certainly will hold the nasty viruses and germs at bay.


A recent study by UNICEF actually concludes one of the safest germ-free places in the household might be the bathroom.

Flus in fall and winter are as traditional as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but they are hardly festive.

Kids are back in school and the chances of them coming home with symptoms, shared by other classmates, are far more predictable by a long shot than the right lottery numbers. Not to mention co-workers who insist on soldiering on to work while under the weather and sharing the bugs.

The UNICEF study found that cleaning a select few household items is likely more effective in combating germ warfare. It “reveals that the areas of a home most germ-ridden may be some of the least expected.” And that includes what you’re sitting on watching The Simpsons or Hockey Night in Canada — the sofa.

While a third of people think the bathroom is the main culprit in the house, microbiologists found the average family sofa “has a bacterial count that is a staggering 12 times more than a typical toilet seat,” says the study. “The family sofa earns a respectable 19,000 germs per square centimetre, while a toilet seat comes in at a paltry 1,600 in the same measurement.

The dirtiest household item was the trampoline, with bacteria levels of 640,000 per square centimetre, including harmful E.coli and enterobacteriaceae (whatever it is, it sounds dangerous).

And worst of all is the refrigerator — its handles collect four times more bacteria than toilets seats, says the study.

But don’t dismiss washing your hands as opposed to cleaning various parts of the household. The study says “cleaning may not be the most effective way to stop the spread of illnesses.”

“Hand washing is probably the most cost-effective and simple way to reduce diseases,” says environmental health expert Lisa Ackerley. “Literally, our safety, and that of others, is in our hands.”

Another study, this one conducted in the U.S., brings new meaning to the saying: “Don’t change that channel!” especially in a hotel room.

It determined television remotes are the most bacteria-ridden items in hotel rooms, even more than the bathrooms. “The research also found that (hotel) bedside lamps were rife with germs.”

Not to cause mass panic, but the publication Better Housekeeping recently named the “10 germiest places in your home.”

They are: underside of rugs, window blinds, credit cards, kitchen trash cans, household plants, your purse, top of the refrigerator, toothbrush holders, vacuum cleaner brushes and attachments, and yoga mats.

Of credit cards, Better Housekeeping says: “These everyday essentials get handled by lots of people, and germs can lurk in the crevices around the numbers.” (Do you know where the storekeepers’ hands have been?)

The magazine recommends: “Give debit and credit cards a quick cleaning with an alcohol wipe and let them air dry before placing them in your wallet.”

It’s been argued that our super-clean society is to blame for various viruses and illnesses infecting us because our antibody systems have been too well protected and our natural defences are down.

So we must defend ourselves any way possible.

The best advice to follow, according to health authorities, is wash your hands. And as the dreaded flu season approaches, get a flu shot.

Rick Zemanek is a retired Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read