It’s that time of year again when Torontonians spend much of their time indoors incubating disease. Though cold temperatures causing sickness is an inexplicably persistent myth, we do know that most of our risk comes from being inside more often with other people. Transit riders should be pleased to find that the metal pole they’re holding on to is only cleaned once a week.
Torontoist feels that we’re all a little too uptight about germs these days, but we also forget how bad a cold can be until it knocks us on our ass for a week. When the temperature drops low enough to start the cocooning instinct, that’s when to hit up the Purell.
We’re also pleased to bust another myth that hand sanitizers lead to antibacterial resistance. They don’t. They’re predominantly ethyl alcohol with a few moisturizers thrown in. Alcohol-based sanitizers are not the same as antibacterial soaps and cleansers, the latter which may contribute to the mutation of resistant bacteria. Both kill bacteria, but not viruses.
Anyone who rides the TTC has likely experienced the alarm of being hacked-on by some phlegm-filled nosewiper. Then there’s the problem of watching someone cough into their hand, only to offer it in greeting moments later. This is why your friendly neighbourhood Toronto Public Health department wants everyone to learn to sneeze and cough into their sleeves.
The City’s “Do The Sleeve Sneeze” awareness campaign launched earlier this month with posters visible in clinics, subways and transit shelters. Public Health says that the spread of germs is particularly significant via door handles, subway poles, and the dirtiest part of your workspace: your telephone, mouse and keyboard. Eww.
They also advise not to share the obvious utensils like silverware and cups, as well as the more disgusting means of transmission, like a toothbrush. Who does this?! Stop.
Also, replace your toothbrush three times a year or after you’ve been sick, and let it dry out completely before putting in an enclosed travel container. Your lip gloss, lip balm and pots of petroleum jelly also quickly become pits of bacteria, so replace them often.
Sneezing into your upper arm or the crook of your elbow helps keep hands clean and fabric isn’t a great place for viruses to survive for long. The hands are often the primary means of transmission — touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Toronto Public Health also recommends the video below of cough and sneeze techniques. We were going to make fun of it at first but then couldn’t deny its awesomeness. Plus, we learned stuff, even if it made us want an isopropyl alcohol scrubdown by the time it finished. Watch, learn, and send this link on to others, and if you see someone with a snot-encrusted upper sleeve, thank them (from afar) for considering your health.