Flu season is upon us once again. You may be sitting and wondering if and when you'll be affected...or infected. It's a virus that is so easy to contract from your family, co-workers, surfaces and even by sneezes and coughing, so it's best to be prepared. While the CDC recommends always getting an annual flu shot for best prevention, there are additional ways to get yourself "flu season ready". Here are 5 simple things you can do avoid getting the flu AND prevent the spread of the flu to others:
1. Educate Yourself
How much do you really know about the flu? How is it spread? When are you the most contagious? Is the stomach flu and the flu the same thing? Is the flu vaccination effective? Understanding the flu virus can help you learn how to avoid it and how to prevent spreading it to others.
Influenza is a serious infection which affects more than 60 million individuals in the US every year. It’s spread from person to person via droplets when coughing or sneezing and by touching objects and surfaces that are contaminated with the virus (i.e. doorknobs and telephones) and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The influenza virus may persist for hours in dried mucus and be transmitted by direct contact. It is spread very easily indoors, which is why it is so prevalent in the winter months in northern countries, when people spend more time together inside. Watch this video that demonstrates how quickly germs can spread.
Now test your knowledge by taking CDC's Flu I.Q. quiz. Share your results with your friends and co-workers.
2. Practice Better Hand Hygiene
Separate studies from around the world show that after visiting the washroom only 70% of people wash their hands, with only 30% of people actually using soap; the remaining 40% use water alone. The sad reality is, people do not wash their hands frequently or adequately enough. In fact, the average person washes their hands for only around 10 seconds which at best will remove about 90% of germs. The problem is the remaining bacteria will grow and can double in number in less than 20 minutes and in 80 minutes can be back to the number prior to washing. Learning how to properly wash your hands is a crucial preventative measure against the flu. Washing your hands involves more than just running them under water for a few seconds. Learn how to properly wash your hands with this simple process.
In situations where water is not available, the use of hand sanitizer, specifically formulated for rapid use without the need for water rinsing is recommended.
3. Get Your Workplace Ready
Every year, influenza, or the flu affects not just our health, but often the bottom line for many businesses. Regardless if an employer is large or small, the flu can be a big disruption and its true financial impact may be more than you think.
The direct cost of all workplace absenteeism is estimated at 2.4% of gross annual payroll. As a result, seasonal flu has a significant impact on employers and the general public. Direct medical costs, for example, are estimated in the US at $10 billion annually and more than $16 billion in lost earnings. Indirect costs include lost productivity, replacement workers and a reduction in customer satisfaction. Combining both direct and indirect costs significantly increases the financial impact of absenteeism on businesses globally.
Workplaces and public facilities where people interact in close proximity are at a higher risk for the spread of germs. According to one recent workplace microbial survey, "desktop surfaces, computer keyboards, mouse and telephone receivers are more contaminated than restroom toilet seats."
Organizations can reduce the risk of spreading germs by providing adequate hand washing facilities and promoting the use of a hand sanitizer applied regularly to clean, dry hands to compliment routine hand washing. Studies show that good hand hygiene practices can reduce illness, absenteeism and associated costs by up to 50%.
The savings associated with infection control programs can be significant for businesses and should become an essential part of a proactive strategy. Is your workplace prepared?
4. Learn Tips On How To Avoid Germs
80% of germs are spread by our hands and transmission can happen either through personal contact or by touching contaminated surfaces. Every 60 seconds, a working adult will touch as many as 30 objects that may be contaminated by bacteria or viruses causing infectious disease.
If you want to avoid getting or spreading the flu, there are some easy tips to remember, such as;
Finally, a recent survey found many of us use very "interesting" ways we go about avoiding germs, such as;
4. Stay At Home If You're Sick
Finally, it sounds obvious, but if you are sick, stay at home. But 90% of office workers come to work when sick. Even worse, they know their coughing and sneezing may be infecting others, but 45% said an ever-growing workload makes it necessary. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. So you can be sure that they are spreading the flu while at work.
Health authorities recommend you stay at home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to avoid infecting others and spreading the virus further.
So, if you are sick with the flu, please stay home to help prevent spreading influenza to others. You certainly don't want to catch the flu from your co-workers or fellow classmates, so why would you do the same to them? Call in sick or work from home if possible.
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