I was one of two copywriters tasked with writing SEO copy for around forty pages of Dettol‘s new website (launched 2014). Topics ranged from kitchen hygiene guidelines to more general advice on family health. The copy has now been syndicated internationally under the larger Lysol brand.
What are germs and how do they spread?
Most of the germs in the world are harmless to humans. Some types of bacteria even do us good, like the ones in our gut that help us digest food. But it’s worth knowing about germs and how they can be spread in your home – especially because a few simple hygiene steps can stop them in their tracks.
What are germs?
Germs (or pathogens, as they’re sometimes called) are microscopic organisms that can cause illness and infections if they get into our bodies.
The most common types are:
- Bacteria (e.g. Salmonella which can cause food poisoning)
- Viruses (e.g. Rhinovirus which causes the common cold)
- Fungi (e.g. Trichophyton which can cause athlete’s foot)
- Parasites (e.g. Giaridia Intestinalis which can cause diarrhoea)
How are germs spread?
Bacteria and fungi can thrive anywhere warm and moist in your home. But viruses are different. Around one hundredth the size of a bacterium, viruses need to be inside a living host in order to reproduce. It’s through this process that they cause disease.
Common sources of germs in the home are:
- Contaminated food and water
- Regularly touched surfaces like doorknobs, taps, TV remotes and telephones
- Cleaning and waste areas like bins, sinks and toilets
- Household waste like used or gone-off food, used tissues and soiled nappies
- Cleaning items like cleaning cloths, sponges and dirty toothbrushes
- Pets and other animals like rodents and flies
- Other people
How do germs get into the body?
There are several ways that germs can get into our bodies.
- They could be eaten in contaminated food.
- Germs in the air could be inhaled through our nose and mouth get into the lungs.
- Germs on our skin can enter via untreated cuts or wounds.
- They can be introduced to our bloodstream through injections, surgery or through animal or insect bites.
- Finally some specific germs in our body fluids can be passed onto others through bodily contact.
Did you know…
In the right conditions, bacteria like Escherichia coli (e-coli) can divide every 20 minutes so that in only 8 hours a single bacterium can grow to nearly 17M bacteria.
Dettol offers a range of products that kill germs to protect you and your family from illness.
Baby proofing tips for your home
Children and babies are natural explorers, using all of their senses (especially touch and taste) to discover the world around them. Follow our safety and hygiene advice below to keep your child safe from illness or injury as they explore and play in your home.
Is my home baby proof?
When baby proofing your home, think about each room as your child sees it – from the floor up. Here is a quick checklist:
- Secure bookcases, shelves and drawer units to the wall if possible
- Switch off and cover any exposed electrical outlets
- Keep electrical cables out of reach and put unused appliances away
- Cover sharp edges of furniture with a soft material like foam
- Install smoke alarms in every room and check them regularly
- Keep a first aid kit stocked and easily accessible to adults
- Secure your windows and keep blind cords out of reach
- Keep chemicals and medicines out of reach or in locked cupboards
- Clean up any spills immediately and disinfect the area if required
- Program emergency numbers into your phone and leave them visible for others
Keeping floors safe
Keeping table tops and work surfaces clean is second nature. But it’s easy to forget that your child’s work surface is the floor. Without proper hygiene, harmful germs and bacteria can be walked in on visitors’ shoes and quickly spread from one room to another. Regularly clean and disinfect the floors of your home to provide a healthy place for your child to play.
Pet safety and hygiene
Having a pet can be rewarding for the whole family and is great for your child’s education. With a few simple house rules you can minimise the chance of bacteria being passed from your pet to your child.
- Wash your hands after handling pets or their equipment (e.g. feeding bowls, litter tray)
- Discourage your child from kissing your pet
- Don’t allow your pet to lick your child on the face
- Keep pets away from food preparation and eating areas
- Clean and disinfect your pets equipment regularly
- Ensure pet food is kept out of reach of children