However, according to Santarpia, there is another reason to be concerned about public restrooms: insufficient ventilation. “Add in the fact that there may be a significant number of people in there, with everything produced by toilet plume, and the scenario becomes considerably worse,” he says.

Furthermore, high-touch areas such as doorknobs and faucets pose a risk, according to Charles Gerba, a professor of virology in the University of Arizona’s Department of Environmental Science. “It’s unlikely that someone will stay in the restroom long enough to come into contact with enough virus to become sick,” Shaw says. However, there are several things you may do to reduce your chances. According to Gerba, the following seven actions can help you avoid not only COVID-19, but also other bugs that you’re more likely to encounter in the bathrooms near me, such as noroviruses and E. coli.

Suggestions for staying safe in the stall

1.Before you go, go. Because bladder muscles weaken with age, most older persons can’t go for long periods of time without going to the bathroom. Furthermore, according to Rosanne Leipzig, M.D., professor and vice chair of education for the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the older you get, the more likely you are to have issues like urinary incontinence or prostate problems. Don’t think that cutting back on fluids is the answer: According to Leipzig, older persons are particularly prone to the symptoms of dehydration. Take all of your required drugs, including any that may cause diuresis, such as blood pressure medications. What are your options? Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages, which are diuretics and can cause you to urinate more frequently. Also, try double voiding when you go to the restroom before leaving the house: This implies you should wait 20 to 30 seconds after using the restroom before attempting to totally empty your bladder.

2. Put on a mask. Wear it in the stall even if the bathroom appears to be empty. It’s also crucial to ensure that the bathroom is well aired, which you can typically determine if you hear a fan. According to Gerba, well-ventilated restroom air “moves out of the room so swiftly that any aerosol particles won’t last very long.”

3.Spray the cubicle with water before entering. Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone Health, advises spraying the air in a stall, as well as the toilet seat, with a disinfectant containing ethyl alcohol and dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharinate, such as Lysol, and waiting up to a few minutes before entering. He continues, “We know that the COVID-19 virus can stay suspended in the air as micro droplets for several hours.” “The spray will reduce the amount of virus particulates in the air, making it less likely that you would inhale them.”

4.Get ready to flush and hurry. According to Shaw, the problem of toilet plume can be simply solved by lowering the lid to flush, yet public restroom lids are frequently not lowered. Tierno advises that in these situations, you should be ready to go as soon as you flush. Also, don’t bother with paper toilet seat covers: they’re unlikely to provide any additional protection. “As far as I’m aware, there are no butt-borne infections,” Gerba explains.

5.Sanitize your hands twice. Gerba recommends applying hand sanitizer after you’ve lathered up and washed your hands after using the restroom. He describes it as a “nice extra barrier.” If you’ve touched any high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, or wastebaskets, make sure to reapply it.

6.Don’t use the hand dryer. According to a study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology in 2018, hot-air hand dryers could be germ bombs, spraying viruses and germs from the restroom air right onto your hands. Tierno recommends using a disposable paper towel instead.

7.Don’t waste time on the toilet. Nearly 75% of Americans admit to using their cell phone while using the restroom. However, if you’re in a public restroom, you should avoid it. “Right now, you really want to minimize your time in the bathroom and simply use it for what it was designed for,” Leipzig advises.