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Cover Your Cough!

If you have ever met Andy Kuzneski, you may have noticed he didn’t shake your hand, but said, “I’m fighting a cold, so I’m fist bumping.” While some people think he’s always sick, the reality is he is almost never sick and he fist bumps because he wants to stay that way. (I’d like him to stay that way, too!)

The original reason for the handshake was so you could check to see if the person you were meeting had a weapon in their hand. In this day and age, I guess one could argue either way whether it is still necessary to shake hands for that reason, but during cold and flu season and now Coronavirus season, maybe we should skip that formality.

While traveling and just being out and about, I love to people watch but what I see around this time of year makes me want to stay home. People walking around coughing without covering their mouths, sneezing into their hands and (not so) slyly wiping it on their jeans – then doing what? Shaking hands with someone.

Sadly, it can be just as bad in your office as it is out in the world. One person gets sick. They come to work, spread their germs, then the next person gets sick, and so on, and so on. I am currently working on a policy for keeping the workplace healthy for our employee handbook, but in the meantime, I did a little research on the Center for Disease Control’s website – cdc.gov – for some guidance. Here’s what they say to do to avoid getting sick.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu. The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.

  1. Get Vaccinated. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. There are several flu vaccine options this flu season.
  2. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  3. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.
  5. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  7. Practice other good health habits.Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Preventing Flu at Work

  • Find out about your employer’s plans if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  • Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

Learn more about how you can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu at work : Flu Prevention at Work