Keep the cold and flu at bay this winter by being mindful of these germ hot spots.

Cell Phones

It’s no surprise that your cell phone is one of the top hot spots for germs. In fact, according to a study outlined in Forbes Magazine, 15% of cell phones tested contained bacteria known to cause infection, and 16% of them contained traces of fecal matter.

Solution: It is important to avoid using abrasive products, when cleaning your cell phone. To clean your cell phone safely, start by removing it from the case. With a slightly damp microfibre cloth, carefully clean the front and back of your phone case. Dry the case thoroughly using a microfibre cloth. Next, carefully clean the exterior of your phone using a slightly damp microfibre cloth. Dry the exterior of your phone immediately. Once you are finished, return your cell phone to its case. Make sure to clean your cell phone periodically to avoid cross contamination, and always remember to wash your hands after use, especially before meals.

Gas Pumps

Gas station pump handles are another hot spot for germs. According to a study outlined in Forbes Magazine, 71% if gas pump handles contain bacteria and germs that can make your sick.

Solution: The best way to avoid the cross contamination of germs at the gas pump, is to use hand sanitizer once you have finished pumping gas. This will prevent the spread of bacteria inside your vehicle. You can also drape a tissue or wet nap over the handle itself, while pumping gas to avoid direct contact with the pump handle. If you typically use gloves while pumping gas in the winter, make sure to launder your gloves frequently to keep them clean.

Restaurant Menus

Headed to the most popular restaurant in town? If so, make sure to avoid touching your utensils and plate after handling the menu. Restaurant menus are touched by many people each day, and some, aren’t even wipe down after use.

Solution: To avoid cross contamination, keep your menu away your plate and utensils prior to ordering. Once you have placed your order, give your hands a good wash before eating.

Lemon and Lime Wedges

You may want to reconsider adding the lemon or lime garnish to your drink, next time you are at a restaurant. According to a study done conducted for the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers sampled 21 drinks at different restaurants and discovered 25 different microorganisms present, on the lemon and lime slices. In fact, one of the microorganisms found was E.coli.

Solution: Although both fruits are good for your health, it’s best to ask your bar tender not to add them to your drink when you’re at a restaurant.

Grocery Carts

Next time you make a trip to the grocery store, make sure you give the grocery cart handle a good wipe down, before you shop. According to the Journal of Medical Virology, the cold and flu virus can survive on a hard surface for up to 18 hours.

Solution: Take a moment to use the anti-bacterial wipes provided, to thoroughly clean the grocery cart handle, prior to shopping. If you do not have access to anti-bacterial wipes, adding a drop of hand-sanitizer to a tissue and wiping down the surface of the handle, will do the trick. Make sure to always wash your hands after visiting the grocery store as well.