Protect & Prevent - Surface

Look around you and try to count how many surfaces are in sight. This may be a difficult task, as you analyze countertops, door handles, chairs, and other objects throughout the room. All these surfaces are great places for microscopic bacteria and viruses to hide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend 93% of their life indoors—87% of their life within a building, then another 6% within their vehicles. That’s only 7% of your entire life spent outdoors in the fresh air.  Taking precautions to keep the surfaces within the building you are in frequently clean could help prevent illnesses within your family.

A surface or object can be initially contaminated by the depositing of bacteria or virus particles from the air, such as through coughing, sneezing, talking, breathing, vomiting, diarrhea incidents, toilet flushing, and hand touching. Once hands are contaminated, some may touch several other surfaces before handwashing. This makes even more contaminated surfaces and increases the rate of transmission to other people.

Countless illnesses spread through surface contact transmission. Some examples are chicken pox, the common cold, conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), Hepatitis A and B, herpes simplex (cold sores), influenza, and measles. The bacteria or virus that causes these diseases cling to any surface they can, as they wait for a human host to attach to.

The number one way to prevent illness and the spread of surface contact diseases is to wash your hands regularly. Here are some important times to wash your hands; before, during, and after preparing or eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; after using the bathroom; after touching an animal, their food, or waste; after touching garbage; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. After completing any of these regular tasks, you should immediately clean your hands by either washing them with soap and water or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Another important way to prevent surface contamination is to regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces. These objects include doorknobs, faucets, light switches, phones, tables and chairs, toilets, remotes and game controllers, and children’s toys. These high-touch surfaces can become contaminated by direct contact with bodily fluids or indirect contact with other contaminated objects and are an ideal place for bacteria and viruses to hide. These surfaces should be cleaned and then disinfected regularly, especially after visitors and when they are visibly soiled.

Remember, surfaces do not have to look contaminated to have bacteria and viruses living on them. Routine disinfecting of surfaces and handwashing are two of the top ways to protect yourself from the microscopic villains living within your home. Protect your family by preventing surface contact transmission in the area you spend the most time in, home.