It's something we all face. We are out in public and have to go to the bathroom.Usually this isn't much of a problem, but there are still dangers that can lurk in public bathrooms.
First, if the bathroom is filthy, unless you really have to go, find someplace else. When bathrooms aren't kept clean all types of germs or bacteria can hang about just waiting to invade unsuspecting bodies.
It's usually best if you can scout out clean bathrooms in particular areas before they are needed, especially if you have children with you on such outings. And never ever put yourself in a position where a young child will have to go alone into a public bathroom, especially in campgrounds or other places where public bathrooms might be more isolated. Pedophiles often hang out in such areas, hoping for just such a chance. It's not worth risking your child's life to let him or her go alone into a public bathroom.
Think about such a situation ahead of time and take the necessary steps to avoid potential hazards here (and that doesn't include asking a stranger of the same sex to take your child into the appropriate bathroom; that can be just as dangerous).
Even if a child is older (pre-teen or teenager), make sure they visit any public bathroom with a buddy. Again, dangers can lurk even in what might seem to be the safest places.
Never go into a public bathroom alone without a working cell phone. Same for your children. You want a way to be able to call for help if needed to be sure you stay safe in public bathrooms.
Most public bathrooms these days have those hand blowers rather than paper towels. Guess what.That air blowing out of those machines can have bacteria. Keep some small baby wipes or tissue in your purse or pocket and use that to dry your hands. It doesn't hurt either to keep hand sanitizing liquid stored safely in your car somewhere in case you need it.
There are different arguments as to whether you can actually catch something from a public toilet seat, but, regardless of these arguments, it's unsanitary to sit on such a fixture with your bare skin. Line the toilet seat well with strips of toilet paper before sitting down for two reasons - First, it will keep the seat more sanitary for you and the toilet paper can be safely flushed afterwards; plus, there are some nuts out there who think it's funny to put things like an invisible line of super glue onto toilet seats. Once you sit down and your skin sticks to that, you will have to call the paramedics to cut you loose. Painful, embarrassing and not at all funny. If you line the public bathroom seat with strips of toilet paper first, not only will it make it more sanitary for your use, this step can alert you to any problems that might have been planned by some idiotic practical joker.
If someone asks me directions in a public bathroom or just chats in general while I'm washing my hands, I usually respond, albeit briefly. If someone seems just too friendly, I smile and get out of there as fast as possible. This may be totally innocent, and probably is much of the time, but there are scams that go on everywhere, and that always starts with someone trying to gain first your attention and second your trust. A good rule of thumb for staying safe when using public bathrooms is simply to get in and out as soon as possible.
I also don't use public bathrooms alone where there is only room for a single occupant. That seems like it would be the best solution in many ways, but here is the problem with that. I once lived in a tropical area where many people saved to go on a dream vacation. They were excited and having loads of fun, so most of them didn't think anything about stopping in for a quick lunch at a fast-food place and heading off to the single occupant bathroom, only to end up in real danger of losing their lives because criminals, knowing people are usually coming in alone, would hide out in such places, just waiting for unsuspecting targets. Since that time, I don't use single occupant public bathrooms if I am alone or with children. It's just not worth the risk to me.
There are a lot of things to watch out for when knowing how to stay safe while using public bathrooms. Most of the time about 97 percent of people never have any problems. However, it's that 3 percent of danger that can sometimes make you sick or cause you some dire problems.
It's better when thinking about steps to stay safe when using public bathrooms to play it safe than be sorry later.