Flu season is in full swing, and if you work in an office, you could be at a much greater risk for getting sick. Why? Because just like a cold, the flu is spread through the air and on surfaces we touch, which means that when you’re in relatively close quarters with other people, sharing equipment like copiers, computers, desks or phones, you’re much more likely to come in contact with the virus that causes flu symptoms. While it might seem tempting to stay home until flu symptoms go away, that’s not always an option. However, there are practical steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection and, hopefully, make it through flu season without getting sick. Here’s what to do:
- Wipe and sanitize surfaces. Carrying disinfectant wipes and using them to wipe down phones, faucets, door and toilet handles, lunchroom tabletops, vending machine buttons and other commonly touched surfaces can substantially reduce your chances of becoming contaminated – up to 80 percent. Keep a pump dispenser of sanitizer on your desk and a travel-sized bottle in your purse or pocket.
- Wash your hands. Keeping hands free of germs, especially before eating or after visiting the restroom, is critical. Wash for at least 20 seconds using warm water and soap, and then dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel.
- Get a vaccine. Both injections and nasal spray varieties are available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says vaccines are the most effective way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and passing flu symptoms onto someone else.
- Take precautions now. Too often, people wait until a coworker shows signs of the flu before they take action. By that time, chances are those tiny germs have already been spread to you and others in your office. Take preventive measures by washing hands often and disinfecting surfaces throughout the year to avoid flu and other illnesses.
- Eat at your desk. The office kitchen can be a hotbed of germs. Eat at your desk (wipe it with sanitizer first), and use disposable plates, cups and utensils, instead of items stored in the kitchen area. If you use a mug, be sure to wash it with hot soapy water before and after use.
- Don’t be too social. Look out for signs of the flu, and avoid shaking hands, hugging or touching others that display flu-like symptoms.
Of course, you can increase your chances of staying healthy by eating right and getting plenty of fluids, rest and exercise. Before you know it, spring will have arrived!
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