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5 Ways to Avoid (Household) Contamination

A recent chemical spill in West Virginia that has left upwards of 300,000 without potable water has a lot of us questioning the unsanitary nature of things and what more we can do to protect ourselves from contamination. The simple answer has always been to wash your hands, but when the water itself is the problem – and boiling it does not help – it draws other measures of safety into focus. So, what are some basic safety tips for avoiding so many unseen dangers? <strong>1. Boiling water is usually a good bet – but not always.</strong> The West Virginia spill is a good reminder to the rest of us regarding the difference between bacterial and chemical contamination. <a title="Environmental Protection Agency" href="http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/ecoli.cfm#nine" target="_blank">Boiling water is very effective</a> for eliminating bacterial contaminants like E. coli, but it is not the answer to chemical contamination. Many chemical contaminants will not break down at boiling temperatures, which is why it’s always good to have an alternative … <strong>2. Bottled water is always a good bet.</strong> Storing bottled water for an emergency is a good investment in money and closet space. West Virginians have been <a title="West Virginia Chemical Spill" href="http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/01/west-virginia-water-crisis-tsca" target="_blank">faced with shortages</a> and recent natural disasters have also highlighted the importance of emergency provisions. There are no rules for how much you should store, but survival experts recommend one gallon of water per person per day for both drinking and sanitation. <strong>3. Wash your hands!</strong> Washing your hands is a surefire way to reduce the spread of bacterial contamination if your water source is safe. Everything you touch – including yourself – has germs on it. Regular soap and water will do wonders in your efforts to avoid illness of all kinds, from the common cold to more serious bugs like salmonella and trichinosis. <strong>4. Disinfect high-traffic surfaces.</strong> While the jury’s still out on the <a title="Everyday Myths Debunked" href="http://ourblog.atgstores.com/yes-you-can-refreeze-chicken-household-myths-debunked/" target="_blank">efficacy of antibacterial soap</a>, disinfectants and sanitizers are the real deal and can help keep germs at bay. There really is no such thing as “germ-free” because germs (not to mention mold) are nothing if not persistent, but their presence can be controlled to a degree. Spritz down surfaces that you touch a lot to yield the most effective germ-fighting results. This includes countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards and anything else that gets frequent handling. <strong>5. Get your booster shots.</strong> Lockjaw is no joke, friends, and a “Tdap” shot can protect you against that as well as other bacterial threats like diphtheria and whooping cough. And, all those rumors you’ve read about the flu shot giving you the flu are baloney. It’s physiologically impossible for that to happen, so don’t hesitate to inoculate yourself if you’re not allergic. Shots are no fun, but think about this way: Epidemics are on the rise because fewer people are taking preventative action, so you’re not only helping yourself but also your community. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes everyone in West Virginia gets their water back soon and that the rest of us are ready if that kind of trouble comes our way.
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