I recently spent a week vacationing at a major theme park resort. With two little boys in tow, we made frequent restroom breaks in between rides and shows.

Since more than 40,000 visitors pass through the parks each day, I expected my restroom experience to be completely touch-free to limit the potential for cross-contamination. I was surprised to find I still needed to touch a lever for my towel in a majority of the restrooms.

Hand washing is the best defense for reducing the spread of infection. But
unfortunately, America has a hand washing problem. According to a recent study, only 5 percent of Americans wash their hands for the recommended 15 seconds. That means that even though a majority of restroom visitors use soap and water, their hands still contain germs capable of cross-contaminating towel dispensers, door handles and any other surface outside the restroom.

As someone who says the alphabet while washing his hands — and teaching his children to do the same — it’s very disconcerting to know that I could be contaminating my clean hands as soon as I reach for a towel or open the door. In fact, while I sit and write this editor’s note, the entire Weltin family is under the weather.

Whether it’s a theme park, airport, stadium, school or small office building, building service contractors should talk with their customers about limiting the number of touch-points in a restroom, and scheduling a disinfecting program to target the remaining areas. Restrooms are breeding grounds for bacteria and reducing the potential for cross-contamination will be a step toward a healthier cold and flu season.

One in five Americans will get the flu this year — and 90 percent of employees come to work when they are sick. That’s a recipe for a contaminated workplace. Help stop the problem at one of its sources — the restroom.