As cold and flu season 2023 approaches, we all know it can wreak havoc in the workplace, leading to absenteeism, decreased productivity, and an overall decrease in employee well-being. In the fight against the flu virus, one of the most powerful weapons is simple: proper handwashing.
If you want to know how to prevent the common cold and flu, read on to learn the importance of handwashing, when to do it, and the best techniques to keep your office flu-free.
When to Wash Your Hands
Hand hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of the flu virus, and knowing when to wash your hands is the first step in effective flu prevention. Here are some key moments when handwashing is essential:
- Before Eating: Always wash your hands before sitting down for a meal or having a snack. The flu virus can easily transfer from your hands to your mouth, so clean hands are crucial when handling food.
- After Using the Restroom: After using the restroom, washing your hands is non-negotiable. This step is essential in preventing the spread of germs, including the flu virus.
- After Coughing or Sneezing: If you’ve coughed or sneezed into your hands, wash them immediately. This can prevent you from spreading the virus to surfaces or other people you come into contact with.
- After Touching Common Surfaces: In an office setting, many surfaces are touched by multiple people, such as doorknobs, light switches, and shared equipment. After touching these surfaces, it’s a good practice to wash your hands to prevent the flu virus from spreading.
- Whenever Hands Are Visibly Dirty: If your hands are dirty, whether from handling paperwork, eating, or other activities, take the time to wash them.
The Best Way to Wash Your Hands for Flu and Cold Prevention
Washing your hands may seem like a simple task, but doing it properly is essential for effective flu prevention. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to wash your hands to get rid of the flu virus effectively:
- Use Warm Water: Start by wetting your hands with clean, running warm water. The warmth helps to loosen dirt and germs on your hands.
- Apply Soap: Apply a sufficient amount of soap to your hands. Be sure to get soap on both the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
- Lather Up: Rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or the ABCs can help you keep track of the hand washing time.
- Scrub Thoroughly: Be thorough in your scrubbing. Pay attention to every part of your hands, including your fingertips, the backs of your hands, and your wrists.
- Rinse: Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water, ensuring that all soap is washed away.
- Dry Properly: Use a clean towel or an air dryer to dry your hands completely. Avoid touching any surfaces or objects after washing.
- Use a Paper Towel to Turn Off the Faucet: To avoid re-contaminating your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the restroom door if it doesn’t have an automatic opener.
Does Hand Sanitizer Kill the Flu Virus?
Hand sanitizer can be a useful tool in the fight against the flu virus, especially when soap and water are not readily available. However, not all hand sanitizers are equally effective against the flu. To be effective against the flu virus, a hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. The alcohol concentration is what makes hand sanitizer effective in killing flu viruses and other germs.
It’s important to note that while hand sanitizer is a good substitute when handwashing is not possible, it’s not as effective as thorough handwashing with soap and water. Hand sanitizer doesn’t remove dirt or physical matter from your hands, and it may not be as effective against certain types of viruses. Additionally, hand sanitizer doesn’t eliminate the need for regular handwashing; it’s best used as a supplement to traditional handwashing practices.
How Often Should You Wash Your Hands During Flu Season?
During flu season, you should definitely step up your handwashing frequency to minimize the risk of flu transmission in your office. Here are some recommendations for how often you should wash your hands:
- Frequently: In an office setting, make it a habit to wash your hands regularly throughout the day, especially after any of the key moments mentioned above.
- After Contact with Sick Individuals: If you come into contact with a colleague who is displaying flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, or fever, it’s essential to wash your hands afterward to minimize the risk of infection.
- Before and After Meetings: In-person meetings often involve handshakes and handling shared materials like documents or devices. Wash your hands before and after meetings to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
- Before and After Meals or Snacks: As mentioned earlier, always wash your hands before eating to ensure that you don’t introduce flu germs into your system.
- After Using Shared Equipment: If you’ve been using shared office equipment like photocopiers, printers, or computers, take a moment to wash your hands to avoid cross-contamination.
4 More Tips to Prevent the Flu Around the Office
In addition to handwashing, there are several other strategies you can implement to prevent the flu from spreading around your office:
- Flu Vaccination: Encourage all employees to get vaccinated for the flu. Annual flu shots can significantly reduce the risk of infection.
- Stay Home When Sick: Create a company culture that encourages employees to stay home when they are ill. Sick employees can spread the flu to their colleagues, so it’s better to have them stay home and recover.
- Good Respiratory Hygiene: Encourage employees to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue or their elbow when they cough or sneeze to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading.
- Regular Cleaning and Disinfection: Ensure that common surfaces and shared equipment in the office are regularly cleaned and disinfected to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Disinfect and Sanitize Your Office for Cold and Flu Season
Proper handwashing is a necessary aspect of flu prevention in the workplace. It’s essential to know when to wash your hands, how to wash them correctly, and when to use hand sanitizer. During flu season, increase the frequency of handwashing and encourage good respiratory hygiene and other preventive measures to keep your office flu-free.
For added protection, contact Safe Spray to disinfect and sanitize your office today.