Fighting The Flu At The Office

January 19, 2012 | Written by Rose in WATER COOLER TALK

The average workplace is like a giant house party for germs that cause the flu. Germs can live on surfaces like doorknobs, phones, desks and counters for more than two hours, so the party can spread to every corner of an office more quickly than an embarrassing online video. Talk about going viral, right? That’s where the phrase came from!

Did you know…

Up to one out of every five Americans gets the flu each year and misses a mind-boggling 70 million workdays. The indirect costs range from $3 billion to $12 billion a year.

A healthy adult can infect other people one day before experiencing symptoms and up to five days after getting sick. In other words, people can spread the flu without even realizing it.

In a perfect world, or workplace, anyone who has the flu would stay home. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, but there are a few simple steps you can take to fight the flu at the office.

Get vaccinated! We make that statement with an exclamation point because a simple flu shot or nasal flu vaccine can reduce the chance of getting the flu by up to 90% in healthy, young adults. As always, consult your doctor first. Just keep in mind that vaccinations aren’t 100% effective, so flu prevention doesn’t stop there.

If you’re sick, take a sick day. If you simply must work while you’re sick, bring your work home so you don’t infect your co-workers. Stay home and rest until you’ve been without a fever for at least 24 hours. You won’t impress the boss if the boss catches the flu because you went to work sick.

Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. But not with your hand. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw it away and wash your hands. If you don’t, it’s almost like hand delivering your flu virus to other people. No thanks.

Wash your hands. A lot. We all should be doing this year round, but especially during flu season. It’s also a good idea to keep hand sanitizer in every office, cubicle and common area. Just remember, it does no good to have it if you don’t use it.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are commonly spread when someone touches something that’s contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

Keep your desk and common areas clean. Use disinfectant wipes to sanitize your keyboard, mouse, desk phone, mobile phone, doorknobs, water fountain and water cooler handles, microwave and refrigerator door handles, drawer handles, etc. Sound like overkill? Think about the last time you had the flu and ask yourself that question again.

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