We love porta-potties. But we get it, not everyone does. And it’s easy to see why in a pandemic, your least favorite place may feel like an unsafe space. But is it? Are portable restrooms safe to use in a pandemic?
The question comes down to how do you define “safe” and what precautions you take when using the restroom.
What is safe during a pandemic?
The word “safe” is thrown around a lot during the pandemic, but its actual meaning is hard to pin down. In reality, there’s only one 100 percent safe way to avoid the coronavirus: total isolation. But in modern society, few of us have this option available to us. So instead of talking about how “safe” something is it may be better to define activities by their level of risk – low to high and everything in between.
Are public restrooms risky? Are portable restrooms less risky? It depends. According to Dr. John Ross, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the risk levels of public restrooms are on par with other indoor spaces. Reports about toilet plume and fecal aerosols may be overstated. Two recent studies found that the risk of bathroom exposure to the virus is fairly limited. Dr. Todd Ellerin, director of infectious disease at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA, went on to add that time is on your side when using the bathroom. Since most bathroom visits are fairly short it reduces the amount of time for potential exposure. Ross adds that “the risk of bathroom exposure is largely theoretical — possible, but not proven.”
Portable restrooms can differ from public restrooms depending on the style and type of unit. Both have lots of touchable surfaces, e.g. doors, handles, etc. but your access to running water may be limited depending on the type of unit. Which is why we suggest coupling your portable toilet with one of our wash stations. CDC guidelines continue to recommend hand washing as one of the first lines of defense to minimize your risk of contracting the virus.
When hand washing services aren’t available, the CDC advises using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, which comes standard in each of our portable units.
How to safely use a public restroom or porta-potty during the pandemic?
That being said, there are still a couple of things that you can do to further minimize your risk when using public or portable restrooms.
The basics are the same as most public interactions these days.
- Wear a mask. Keep your mask on in the bathroom and while you do your business.
- Practice social distancing. If waiting in line for a stall, make sure to keep a minimum of 6 feet of distance between you and others in the queue.
- Minimize contact with surfaces. Use your foot, elbow, or toilet paper to open the door, touch handles, etc.
- Get in and get out. Now is not the time to linger in the bathroom checking your texts or playing Candy Crush. Save the long bathroom trips for when you’re in the comfort of your own home.
- Wash your hands immediately. When hand washing is not available be sure to use hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol.
Portable toilets and public restrooms are still the most hygienic ways to relieve yourself when in public. Avoiding these facilities and using outdoor spaces can lead to another public health crisis, which none of us wants. So when out and about, feel confident that you now know how to navigate a portable restroom safely: use common sense, wear a mask, and wash your hands.
We rent portable restrooms across southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, so whether you’re in Vancouver, WA, Portland, OR, or other nearby cities. If you need to rent a portable restroom, wash station, trailered restroom, or holding tank, contact us today so that we can give you a porta-potty quote for your project or event.