You see warning after warning about how how germ-ridden airports are. And with good reason…people put their fingers in all sorts of nasty places…in their mouth, up their nose, the may surreptitiously scratch their private parts, they pick up a coin they find on the ground and, of course, you’ve got the people who use the toilet and don’t wash their hands. Even when people try to be considerate and cough or sneeze into their hands, it means they’ve just put a bajillion germs into their hands And right after they do one or more of these things, they wind up using the touch screens to check in.
InsuranceQuotes.com, a Texas-based insurance website, did a study at ATL to see what the average number of viable bacteria and fungal cells per square inch, or colony-forming units (CFU) there were on publicly used surfaces. Self check-in screens had the most, with an average of 253,857 CFU per screen (one screen they checked had over ONE MILLION CFU).
And when they’re done using their germ-ridden fingers to check in, you use the same touch screen with your fingers. And then your eye itches so you rub it with that finger. Or you cover your mouth with one hand and pick that piece of corn from between your teeth with the other. And unfortunately, touching your eyes, nose or mouth when you have germs on your hands is an excellent way to get sick.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Some folks would recommend immediately washing your hands after using a touch screen. After all, washing your hands is the best way to get them clean, right?
Others always have a bottle of hand sanitizer in their pocket (or in this case, their 3-1-1 bag) and immediately clean their hands after using the touch screen.
But depending on circumstances, both of those might not be practical in real life. So then what?
Simple. Use your knuckle.
Of course, the photo above is using a smart phone, but the same would hold true with a touch screen at an airport. Think about it…you usually touch things – including those nasty touch screens – with the pads of your fingers. If you use your knuckle (especially that of your middle finger, not your more-often-used pointer finger), it’s a part of your finger that generally wouldn’t be involved in rubbing your eye or getting that corn out. Oh, and if you have really long nails? It saves your manicure, too. Bonus!
Don’t get me wrong…washing your hands is still better. But in a pinch, this should help keep those touch screen germs off the pads of your fingers.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary