The over-ruling concept in public disease prevention is to never go into a wet, dirty, graffiti-ridden toilet stall. Common sense demands you search for the cleanest cubicle. However, if none is available, do not hesitate to comb the nearby neighborhood for a decent restroom rather than risking the dangers of using one exhibiting undue negligence or sexual activity.
Once inside a proper facility, thoroughly wipe both the flush mechanism, exit latch, and toilet seat with a thick wad of available paper. It is highly recommended by well-established and licensed authorities that you carry at all times a handy travel pack of tissues or a recognized brand of sanitized anti-bacterial wipes. As stated by Dr. Jerome Adams, the 20th Surgeon General of the United States in a recent speech on lavatory hygiene, “Who knows where the unwashed fingers of previous toilet users have been.”
All the above precautions, while essential, are not enough. Regardless of what steps are taken to ameliorate the dangers that lurk in public restrooms, these first few suggestions only mitigate the risk of bacteria, microbes, and extreme malaise. There is much more for you to do.
1. Never let any part of your body come in contact with a public toilet. (This rule may also apply to the commodes of certain friends and tattooed acquaintances.) While men have a natural advantage over women when it comes to urination, both sexes should, while defecating, “heed the need” to squat.
Special Note to Women. To insure a clean and dry body position while peeing, it is extremely important that you properly gather together your underwear and other garments (i.e. shorts, pants, culottes, etcetera) and then push such garment forward between the legs at the knee and away from the toilet seat because of the likelihood of errant streams. Side note: Sometimes it may be easier to pull up a skirt and wrap it around the waist before squatting over the bowl.
2. Never use the first few squares of toilet paper. These have been touched by other fingers and may contain a host of unknown contaminates.
3. When exiting a public stall, take pains to remember if you have already sanitized the latch and if not, make certain to use toilet paper to open the door.
4. Do not touch eyes, nose, lips, or any part of your face before washing your hands, even for an itch or a sneeze.
5. Do not touch, brush, or graze the faucet with bare fingers. Again, toilet paper, paper toweling, or anti-bacterial wipes should always be employed.
6. Do not use the modern electric hand-dryers found in some hypothetically sanitary restrooms. Newsweek has revealed that “these devices turn toilet bowls into whirlpools that launch microscopic fecal material into the air.”
7. When exiting the restroom, do not open the door with bare hands and always use some form of sanitizer once you’ve made your escape.
Final Warning: Failure to follow these rules could and most likely will result in one-or-more of the following diseases and/or conditions: the aforementioned golden quartet—Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Herpes—as well as Giardia, meningitis, hepatitis-A, thrush, viral gastroenteritis, rotavirus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Yersinia, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, and worms.
Always remember to STAY RESTROOM SAFE!
Gay Degani has received nominations and honors for her work including Pushcart consideration and Best Small Fictions. She’s published a full-length collection, Rattle of Want, (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She occasionally blogs at Words in Place.