We rely on public restrooms.  They are everywhere- from stores, restaurants, shopping malls, public parks, highway rest areas, and campgrounds.  How can you spend the day shopping or travelling without using them?

The current pandemic has created a prevention based culture shift.  Basically, we are all germophobes now.  There is definitely good in that- it encourages us to wash our hands, not touch our faces, and practice social distancing.  However, we all need to return to some semblance of normal life, and when doing normal life stuff it’s likely you’ll need to use a public restroom at some point.  Here are some ways you can keep yourself safe while using a public restroom:

 

Wash your hands before you depart the restroom

Since Restrooms are not wiped down and sanitized after every user, there is going to be some exposure risk when you use the bathroom.   But it’s not like you have to burn your clothes or throw away your shoes if they make contact.  Those things aren’t very likely to spread the disease to yourself or others.  Your hands are a different story.  Hands are what we use to make contact with almost everything.  You may well touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without realizing it.  Touching surfaces or other people could result in spreading the virus.   So it’s important to make sure your hands aren’t carrying the virus, both for you and everyone else.

 

Do not touch any surface in the restroom with bare hands after you wash them

Use a paper towel or tissue to shield your bare hand when touching door or flush handles. These surfaces harbor a multitude of harmful germs and might be as bad as anything you’ll touch when in a restroom.

 

Carry your own sanitizer

It is a good practice to always carry hand sanitizer with you.  View it as an insurance policy as sometimes bathrooms run out of soap or have inoperable sinks.

 

Be mindful of water droplets in the air

Coronavirus is believed to spread efficiently by airborne water droplets breathed out by infected persons.  High volume air hand dryers stir up the air, keeping airborne droplets suspended.  This is bad for you and the people who use the restroom after you.  Do not use these devices.  If paper towels are provided, use them.  Paper towels can help remove pathogens when soap is not available.

Flushing the toilet will also inject a plume of tiny droplets into the air.  However, we still recommend you flush the toilet for obvious reasons.  There is currently no evidence that a toilet plume can infect you with the coronavirus or that it is a common means of transmitting any other pathogen.

 

Do your business quickly

We think public restrooms are reasonably safe if approached right, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to loiter there either. Treat the area as though it were contaminated. Get in and get out.  Less time exposed means less chance of infection.

 

Maintain your distance

Do not crowd next to someone using a sink or a urinal.  Stay at least 6 feet from others lining up to enter the restroom.

 

Wear a mask

If we all wear a mask the amount of saliva droplets suspended in the air will be greatly reduced.  Masks protect both you and others.

 

Assume you will probably use a public restroom at some point, even if you don’t intend to

The call of nature can sometimes strike suddenly and urgently at times you might not anticipate.  The more time you spend in public, the more likely it is you will find yourself forced to use a public restroom.  Therefore it’s important to make sure you know what to do ahead of time by following the tips above.  As long as you take the proper precautions you have an overwhelming chance to stay safe.