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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

With flu season upon us, now is a good time to review good hygiene practices both at work and at home. On this page I've listed some recommendations to help prevent the spread of the common and H1N1 flu and stay healthy year-round.

How Flu is Spread
The flu virus can be spread from person to person mainly when infected individuals cough or sneeze. It is also possible to become infected by touching a virus-contaminated object and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. [1] To prevent spreading the virus, wash your hands regularly or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In addition, cough into your elbow, cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and toss tissues after one use.

Common Touch Points
Consider the common touch points in the workplace and at home that may become contaminated, including those shared by multiple associates, as well as your personal work equipment.

What can you do to stay healthy?
Flu viruses can survive for two hours or longer on surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops.[2] We've identified some opportunities to reduce your contact with these types of shared surfaces and help reduce your chances of catching the flu. Consider using these recommendations when appropriate for you.

For shared touch points:
- Use your knuckle or shirtsleeve when pushing buttons in the elevator, on the copy or fax machine, etc.
- Use a tissue or paper towel when touching a doorknob, ice scoop, handles, etc.

For the restroom:
- After using the restroom, wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 30 seconds (that's the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice)
- Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door
- Use the hand sanitizers provided

For meetings or common work spaces:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after using shared equipment, shaking hands with associates, borrowing a writing utensil, etc.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after contact with common touch points

In the break areas and before eating:
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating or preparing food, or before preparing your department's/branch's shared coffee
- Clean coffee pots, utensils and other kitchen equipment regularly with soap and warm water
- Use a sanitizing or alcohol-based cleaner on countertops, refrigerator handle, sinks and faucets

At your desk:
- Use sanitizing or alcohol-based wipes to clean hard surfaces: desk, drawer knobs/cabinet handles, arms of chair, keyboard, mouse, telephone. Be sure to use appropriate cleaning products on electronic equipment.
- Throw away used food wrappers, drink cups, tissues, etc. that may have accumulated on your desk. Wash your hands after touching these items.
- Avoid stacking and accumulating papers and files on desktop. Keep electronic copies of documents and avoid printing unnecessary paper copies.

At home and personal items:
- Cell phone: Use sanitizing or alcohol-based wipes to clean your cell phone (read instructions before using on screens or other delicate material)
- Keys/Purse: Keys may touch the floor or gym equipment. Purses are sometimes set on the floor in a restaurant or restroom. Consider these touch points before placing your keys or purse directly on the kitchen counter when at home or work.

Above all:
Eat well, sleep well, exercise, and wash your hands regularly. Remember to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you do become sick, please stay home, rest and get well before returning to work.

Sourses: [1] CDC and [2] Mayo Clinic

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