Here at BBB San Diego, it seems as though the inevitable has happened: the second round of this season’s flu has hit. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that employees who work in close quarters (about a six foot space or less between desks) are highly susceptible to contagious disease, such as the flu. Chances are, if your office is like ours, that you sit within at least six feet of a colleague and touch dozens of shared surfaces each day.
Luckily, there are several steps you can take at work to reduce your chances of getting, or spreading, the flu:
Clean commonly touched surfaces: Viruses spread rapidly on commonly touched surfaces, such as door handles and sink faucets, especially in public places such as offices, schools and malls. Cleaning these surfaces with disinfecting wipes can reduce germs and keep the flu from spreading.
Wash your hands, often: Even though we’re all adults here, it seems as though the necessity in washing your hands can’t be repeated enough, especially before eating, after being outside and using the restroom. It is recommended that to be most effective, you use soap and warm water, washing your hands for twenty seconds or more. If not available, use hand sanitizer to cut down on germs.
Get vaccinated: According to the CDC, an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others. Check in with your employer – many will allot time off to get vaccinated or may offer it at a reduced cost to employees.
Don’t wait until coworkers are sick to take action: We’ve all been there: sitting at our desk, surrounded by coughing and sneezing coworkers, hoping we can stay strong and fight off the germs. The reality is that most adults start spreading a virus days before they even start showing symptoms and up to seven days after becoming sick. Therefore, make a habit of washing your hands, cleaning your workspace and using sanitizer year round to avoid using one of your sick days.
Stay out of the kitchen: If you’re sick, stay out of the office kitchen or other break room spaces. Most people don’t realize that because of the shared utensils, linens and eating surfaces, office kitchens are often the biggest breeding ground for the flu. Use disposable products to keep the virus from spreading.
If you get sick, stay home: If you become sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home. Your business may allow you to work from home, or will give you the time off to recuperate. The CDC recommends you stay home for a least 24 hours after the fever associated with the flu is gone.
How do you know if you have the flu? Below are the most common flu-like symptoms, according to the CDC:
Fever or chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Most likely, if you’re sick at work, you’ll be distracted. This could lead to any number of dangerous situations, especially if you work with machinery, and even in a traditional office setting. If you feel like you may be sick, stay home; it’s best for you, your coworkers and customers.