The Challenge of Washrooms at Christmas
With the holiday season approaching, individuals worldwide are gearing up for Christmas celebrations, social gatherings, and reunions with friends and family. Unfortunately, this festive period also coincides with the heightened risk of colds, the flu, and the emergence of new COVID variants. Lee Radzki from Essity, the manufacturer of Tork products, emphasises the importance of minimising cross-contamination in public restrooms during the winter holidays.
This Christmas season holds significant stakes as everyone aims to maintain good health to fully enjoy the holiday break with loved ones. The vivid memories of the challenges faced in 2020 serve as a reminder of how disheartening it can be when Christmas plans are abruptly cancelled, whether due to widespread restrictions or a family member falling ill.
With the ongoing emergence of new COVID-19 variants and the onset of the flu season, concerns about falling ill are entirely justified. However, completely eliminating these risks is a tall order, short of isolating oneself at home throughout the Christmas period.
Nonetheless, there are specific measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of contracting infections or viruses. Handwashing has been recognised as a highly effective means of reducing the risk of various illnesses. At home, most of us have easy access to running water, soap, and towels, making handwashing a straightforward practice.
The scenario differs in public places like restaurants, pubs, and hotels. Festive celebrations often involve increased alcohol consumption, resulting in more frequent restroom visits and overcrowded facilities. It’s challenging to maintain physical distance in busy restrooms, making infection risk higher. Additionally, people are less likely to practice thorough hand hygiene when they must endure long restroom queues.
When restrooms in venues become crowded, cleaning teams face added pressure. They are tasked with thorough cleaning to minimise cross-contamination, but achieving this in a bustling restroom where space is at a premium can be challenging. The constant need to replenish soap and paper supplies exacerbates congestion and poses difficulties for staff to stay on top of refilling tasks.
Similarly, in retail centres, stores experience high foot traffic during the Christmas season, further straining restroom facilities. Staff must efficiently maintain the restrooms to prevent disruptions and bottlenecks.
Ensuring a steady supply of soap and paper during the busy Christmas period is essential to prevent run-outs. For example, the Tork SmartOne toilet paper system dispenses a single sheet at a time, reducing consumption by up to 40%, which in turn reduces the need for frequent maintenance checks. In bustling restrooms, soap systems should be user-friendly, quick to refill, and resistant to running out.
Addressing restroom congestion is one way to reduce the risk of illness during the festive season, but other measures can enhance restroom safety. Proper ventilation with fans, open windows where possible, and partitioned outer doors can help maintain good airflow. Strategically placed signs and posters can remind people of the importance of hand hygiene and the risks of touching contaminated surfaces. Hand sanitiser dispensers should be easily accessible and consistently replenished to complement handwashing facilities.
While the risk of falling ill over Christmas is a concern, public restrooms can mitigate cross-contamination risks by promoting good hand hygiene, managing crowds effectively, and ensuring a consistent supply of soap and paper products.