Ask Liz: Germs, Parking on Leaf Piles & Bank Checks | NBC4 Washington

Ask Liz: Germs, Parking on Leaf Piles & Bank Checks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ask Liz: Germs, Parking on Leaf Piles & Bank Checks
    Ask Liz: 10-31-08

    How long can germs last on surfaces like doorknobs and keyboards? Infectious disease specialist Lisa Fitzpatrick at Howard University Hospital told us:

    • Cold and flu germs normally last up to three hours outside the body.
    • That means that germs on surfaces can infect someone for up to three hours after the germs are exposed to the surface.
    • On very rare occasions, some germs can last up to 48 hours on surfaces.

    Is it dangerous to park on a pile of leaves? The Prince George’s County Fire Department says:

    • It doesn't recommend that drivers park over leaf piles, because large mechanical parts of your car, like your catalytic converter, can get extremely hot, and if any of those parts are in close or direct contact with the leaves under your car, they can start a fire.
    • You should also avoid parking on wet leaves, which can be a slippery driving hazard. So, the bottom line is to stay away from leaves when parking your car.

    A viewer says that a bank refused to cash one of its own checks because he wasn’t a current customer. It would only cash the check if the viewer paid a $10 fee. He wants to know if this is legal. We checked with the American Bankers Association:

    • It says that banks can legally charge fees for non-customers trying to cash checks.
    • By adding the fee, the bank is trying to cover the risks and costs associated with cashing a check for a non-customer. For example, if the check is forged, the bank has no way to retrieve its loss from someone who isn’t a customer.
    • A better way to cash a check is to take it to your own bank. That way, there's no fee. However, sometimes there may be a brief holding period while the bank makes sure that the check writer’s account has the funds.

    Got a question for "Ask Liz"? Send any consumer questions to askliz@nbcwashington.com.