While you can theoretically catch the flu anywhere, being in certain places and touching certain surfaces puts you at a higher risk.
Here is a list of locations and surfaces where the flu is likely to be transmitted:
Places such as malls provide the perfect conditions for the flu to spread. When a lot of people gather in one area, the flu does what it does best — spread to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Peak times, such as month-end and weekends, should be avoided as this is when the most number of people will be shopping. If possible, use delivery apps to get your groceries. If you can’t avoid going to a mall, carry hand sanitiser to protect yourself from the germs that lurk on commonly touched surfaces.
The doctor’s office
The doctor’s waiting room is full of sniffling, sneezing and coughing people. The doctor’s office is also full of surfaces that could be touched by sick people — everything from the doorknob and the examination table to the door handle. A perfectly healthy person could go in for a routine checkup and return home with the flu. To avoid catching the flu, make sure your doctor takes infection control measures seriously. If they don’t regularly disinfect surfaces with disinfectants that offer optimum germ protection, it’s time to look for another doctor.
Every day, a large number of people make use of ATMs. Some of these people might have coughed onto their hands before they touched the number pad. Plenty of people fall ill with the flu in winter, and if a significant number of them touch an ATM with unclean hands, they are bound to pass on the flu. Cellphone and internet banking are the best way to avoid ATMs during the flu season.
Public toilets are teeming with all sorts of germs. The sheer number of foot traffic in a public toilet makes it a place where plenty of illness-causing germs such as the flu can be transmitted. The biggest culprit is the air dryer and the door handle. Air dryers have been found to spread germs around a room, so opt for a hand towel instead. As for door handles, use your elbow or cover the handle with a paper towel as opposed to your bare hands.
If your workplace is populated by more than a handful of people, there’s a good chance the flu could spread there. Printers, microwaves and boardrooms are just a few of the shared spaces in the office. If you want to protect yourself from illness-causing germs in the office, make sure the cleaning staff use bleach to clean shared surfaces. You could also wipe down your desk with bleach every time you step into the office and once more just before you leave.
When someone sneezes in an elevator, the droplets that transmit the virus have nowhere to go. After all, lifts are small, closed boxes with no windows to offer natural ventilation. Escalators are relatively safer, provided you do not touch the handrails, as they are barely washed.
While the flu cannot be avoided entirely, there are measures you can take to protect yourself. If someone you live with can’t avoid going to these places regularly, be sure to disinfect the household surfaces they touch with bleach.